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Full text of "Breaking of bread : in remembrance of the dying love of Christ, a Gospel institution : five sermons in which the institution is explained, a general observance of it recommended and enforced, objections answered, and such difficulties, doubts, and fears relative to it particularly mentioned and removed ..."

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Pastor of the First Churcfi' of Christ, in Boston. 












ACTS ii. 42. 

And ihei) continued steadfastly — in ureaJcing of bread, 

JL HE preceding verses contain an ac- 
count of the sermon, which the apostle Peter 
preached to a great auditory of Jews, by de- 
scent, or proselytism, collected at Jerusalem 
on the day of Pentecost. By means of this 
sermon, multitudes had awakened in them 
such a sense of sin and guilt, as, in good ear- 
nest, to make that inquiry, *' Men and breth- 
ren, what shall we do?" Upon which, the 
apostle Peter directed them to *' repent, and 
be baptised, every one of them, in the name 
of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins." 
We are then told, that no less than *' three 

A 2 

6 Sacramental " hrcakitig of Bread^^ 

thousand persons gladly received the word, 
were baptised, and added to the number of 
disciples." It follows, in the words of my 
text, that they *' continued steadfastly — in 
breaking of bread." 

The *' bread," which they are said to 
*' break," undoubtedly means the sacramen- 
tal dread ; that bread, which is an instituted 
sign or symbol of the " body of Christ, which 
was broken for us." Some indeed seem to 
think it was only common bread ; but to me 
it appears strange, they should give it this 
sense. It is true, " the bread," these chris- 
tians are spoken of, ver. 46, as " daily breaking 
from house to house," may mean common 
bread ; for it is joined with their *' eating 
meat" for their bodily refreshment. And if 
it is natural, from the things conjoined in this 
verse, to understand, by the " bread they 
break," common bread ; it is equally natural, 
in the verse we are upon, to understand the 
same plirase in a different sense ; not as mean- 
ing coiTinion, but sacramental bread. For the 
other actions here mentioned are sacred ones. 
And as this of '' breaking bread" is joined 
with a ** continuance in the apostle's doctrine 
and prayers," v»'hich are instances of com- 

a Christian Duty. 7 

munion in " things pertaining to the kingdom 
of God, and of Jesus Christ," it would be un- 
reasonable to interpret it as signifying, in this 
place, nothing more than that " breaking of 
bread," which is common and ordinary : Espe- 
cially if it be remembered, that "breaking of 
bread," meaning hereby celebratingthe Lord's- 
Supper, was a religious exercise, in which 
christians, in apostolick times, joined together 
every Lord's-day, with like steadiness as in 
their attendance on the word preached, or 

It is accordingly not only said, in my text, 
thatthey "break bread ;" but that they " stead- 
flistly continued" to do so. The meaning is, 
it was a constant part of their publick worship ; 
one of their stated religious exercises ; a duty 
which they went on in the practice of; perse- 
vering therein with the same steadiness, with 
which they observed the other instituted ser- 
vices of piety,* 

* As " breaking of bread," in apostolick times, was 
one of the known christian exercises on Lord's-davs, 
it may be asked, is not this a duty now as truly, as it 
was then ? And are not christian churches to blame 
that they do not " break bread" every Lord's-day, in 
remembrance of their Lord ? In answer hereto, it is 

8 Sacramental " breaking of Bread''' 

From the words, as they have beeir ex- 
plained, I ani obviously led to urge upon 

readily allowed, that on Lord's-days, it was the prac- 
tice of chriaaans, in the age of the apostles, to "break 
bread," as well as to attend on other parts of gospel 
worship. But I dare not venture to say, it will fol- 
low from hence, that christian churches are all bound 
lo do, as they did. A distinction ought always to be 
made betwixt that, which is esse fi rial, and that which 
is circumstantial^ in any article of duty. To " break 
bread,'* in remembrance of Christ, is essentially a 
christian duty ; the sjiecial frequency of doing this is 
a circumstance only, which it may be proper should 
be varied, according to the state of christian churches. 
Our Lord has said, " This do in remembrance of 
me ;" but neither he, nor any of his apostles have 
said, this do every Lord\^-day. The practice of chris- 
tian churches in the days of the apostles, especially 
with them joining in it, is, it is acknowledged, a 
weighty consideration, and every way sufficient to 
put it beyond all doubt, that the supper of the Lord 
ought to be attended with frequency ; and those 
churches are herefrom justly, and strongly rebuked, 
who '' break bread" not oftener than once^ or twice, 
or thrice in a whole year. But to argue from this 
practice of the primitive christians, that it is an indis- 
pensable duty to have the sacramental supper every 
Lord's-day, may be carrying the argument beyond 
what it will fairly, or justly bear. Perhaps, no prac- 
tice of any church, or of any apostle, or of all the apos- 
tles united, separate from a divine command^ direct 

a Christian Duty, 9 

christian professors the duty of " breaking 
bread" at the Lord's table ; and this I shall 
the more readily engage in, as it is a duty, to 
whatever cause it may be owing, that is great- 
ly neglected in these days. Multitudes of 

or implicit, is absolutely binding upon any society of 
christians whatever. It may be of great service in 
guiding their conduct, but not certainly obligatory in 
point of conscience ; to be sure, not so in all cases, 
and at all times. There may be such a variety, yea, 
contrariety, in the state and circumstances of church- 
es, as not to make that expedient, which is not com- 
manded, though it should have been a primitive 
practice, and a commendable one too. And it is, be- 
yond all dispute, true, that the command^ respecting 
the sacramental supper, relates to doing the duty it- 
self, prescribing nothing in /larticular, as to the /re- 
quency of its being performed ; whether every day, 
or week, or month, or year. In general, it may be 
justly collected, from the practice of the first chris- 
tians, especially when compared with those words of 
the apostle Paul, " as oft as ye do this," that the sup- 
per of the Lord ought to be celebrated with such 
frequency^ as that it may with propriety be said, it is 
done often. I judge no christian church for" break- 
ing bread" every Lord*s-day : Neither ought they to 
judge other churches, who think, if they often do 
this, it is all they are obliged to, in virtue of any 
PRECEPT in the religion of Jesus. 

10 Sacvmental " breaking of BreacV^ 

those, who call themselves christians, instead 
of celebrating the sacramental supper, go from 
it as though they had no concern in it, or as 
if it were a trifling institution, not worth their 
regard. The neglect of " eating bread, and 
drinking wine," in remembrance of him, who 
died for our sins, is indeed grown a general 
ftiult, and justly chargeable upon baptised 
persons, arrived at a maturity of age and un- 
derstanding. It is a shame it should be thus, 
a reproach upon christians, a dishonour to the 
religion they profess, and an open and scanda- 
lous affront to him, whom they own to be their 
Master and Lord. How different is the prac' 
tice of disciples now, from what is was in the 
days of the apostles ! An attendance at the 
sacramental table was then universal among 
those, who professed faith in Jesus Christ. 
Among the three thousand persons, spoken 
of, in the context, as admitted to baptism, there 
was not one, that did not communicate also at 
the Lord's-Supper ; and it was their constant 
practice to do so. This noble example of the 
primitive christians, recorded to their honour 
by an inspired pen, may, with all reason, be 
esteemed a solemn rebuke of that negligence, 
in regard of the Lord's-Supper, which is now 

a Christian Duty. 1 1 

become almost universal. And I may prop- 
erly, and not unseasonably, take occasion 
from it to represent to all that "name the 
name of Christ," the sinfuhiess of such neg- 
lect, by opening to their view, in the plainest 
and strongest manner I am able, the solemn 
bonds they are under to attend as guests at 
the sacramental table. 

They are obliged to this by the positive 
command of Jesus Christ, the founder of our 
religion, and the author of salvation. He has 
solemnly enjoined it on all, who own them- 
selves his disciples, to *' break bread" in hon- 
our of him. This do in remembrance 
OF ME, are the words of his command: Nor 
could he have expressed his pleasure upon 
this head in terms more plain and explicit. 
They lie level to the lowest capacity, and may 
readily be understood by all, that do not shut 
their eyes against the light. 

Should it be said here, the mind of Christ, 
it is true, was plainly enough signified to his 
apostles, making it their duty to '' break bread 
and eat it, to pour out wine and drink it, in re- 
membrance of him ;" but it is not so evident, 
that this comiTiand to them was, in the design 

12 Sacramental *' hrealcing of Bread^"* 

of Christ, an obligation upon disciples in gen- 

It is readily acknowledged, the words of 
institution were originally spoken to the twelve 
"apostles only ; for which reason, it cannot be 
certainly argued, from the words themselves, 
simply considered, that christians in general 
are obliged to celebrate this memorial of 
Christ's death. The apostles might be applied 
to in their proper character as such, or as dis- 
ciples only ; and whether it was in the former, 
or latter of these senses, cannot be determined 
by the mere force of our Lord's words, as they 
were delivered by him. But this notwith- 
standing, it is not, in any degree, uncertain, 
whether our Saviour intended, by the words he 
spake to his apostles, to oblige christians in 
common, as well as his apostles in particular, 
to attend at the sacramental supper. For it is 
to be remembered, the apostles were infallible 
interpreters of our Lord's words ; insomuch 
that we may, with entire confidence, depend 
on the truth they construe them in. And 
nothing in all the bible is more clearly and 
indubitably evident than this, that they ac- 
counted the Lord's- Supper an established rite 
of gospel- worship, an institution of Christ, that 

« Christian Duty. 13 

all his professed disciples were as truly obliged 
to observe, as they themselves. Why else 
was it the practice of christians in their day, 
and by their order, to join in partaking of the 
symbols of Christ's death ? Three thousand 
persons, upon being baptised by the apostles, 
were, in one day, admitted to sit down with 
them at the Lord's- Supper ; and they " con- 
tinued" to do so, wherever this ordinance was 
administered ; as we read in my text and 
context. And it is beyond all dispute 
evident, not only that christians in com- 
mon met together every Lord's-day to join 
in prayer, and an attendance on the word 
preached ; but in " breaking of bread" also, 
a phrase that means the same thing precisely 
with their celebration of the sacramental sup- 
per. And they did this under the eye of the 
apostles, with them at their head, and as act- 
ing under their guidance and direction. Sure- 
ly, they would not have thus put Christians 
upon partaking of the Lord's- Supper, and 
have joined with them in it, had they not 
known the mind of their Master upon this 
head. It was unquestionably his intention, 
in the appointment of the supper, to oblige ull 

14 Sacramental " hreaMng of BreacV 

the professors of his religion to an observ- 
ance of it : otherwise, this conduct of the 
apostles, who were constituted by him infalli- 
ble guides arid teachers, will be absolutely 
unaccountable. Besides, it may be worthy 
of remark, when the apostle Paul found the 
christians at Corinth in the use of this act of 
religious w^orship, he does not forbid their go- 
ing on in it, as being a duty proper to apostles 
only. It is true, he blames them for the ir- 
regularities they had mixed with their use of 
this ordinance; but not for their use of the or- 
dinance itself. Far from this, he solemnly as- 
sures them, as from Jesus Christ himself, that 
the sacramental supper was a sacred rite of 
gospel worship, instituted by our Saviour 
himself, for the use of all christians. And, as 
the best remedy to cure their disorders, he 
relates to them the institution itself, and di- 
rects them to manage their attendance on it 
in strict agreement therewith. 

So that, upon the whole, it will -not admit 
of debate, whether *' eating bread and drink- 
ing wine, in remembrance of Christ," is an 
established rite of his religion. It is as ob- 
viously and certainly an institution of the gos- 
pel, as " baptism in the name of the Father, 

' a Christian Duty. 15 

and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost," or 
indeed any law, recorded in the new testa- 

There is therefore, so far as we regard the 
authority of Jesus Christ, the same reason, why 
we should *' break bread," in remembrance of 
him, as that we should obey him in any other 
instance of duty whatever. Why do we 
think ourselves obliged to join, as christians, 
in observing the Lord's- Day, or in attending 
on the word preached, and prayer ? Is it that 
we might be obedi(-nt to Jesus Christ, who 
is king in Sion ? We are equally under obli- 
gation to celebrate the memorial of his death. 
This ordinance has the same stamp of his au- 
thority on it ; nor are we any more at liberty 
to disregard it in this instance, than in the 
other. Nay, if we knowingly, and habitually 
offend in this point, we may reasonably call 
in question the integrity of our hearts respect- 
ing the other. He that has said, " repent and 
be baptised," " neglect not the assembling 
yourselves together" for the services of piety, 
such as prayer, reading and hearing God's 
word, has said also, and in words equally au- 
thoritative, " this do in remembrance of me." 
And if we practically slight the authority of 

•16 Sacramental " breaking of Bread" 

Christ in this latter instance, why should we 
think our regards to it are pure and single, as 
to the former ? The plain truth is, the com- 
mands of Jesus Christ are all given out with 
the same authority. And if this authority 
obliges us to obedience in any, it does in ev- 
ery instance. We have no right to make ex- 
ceptions, doing one thing, and leaving anoth- 
er undone. The only question here is,has Jesus 
Christ, who is Head and Lord of his church, 
instituted the sacramental supper ? Has he 
commanded his disciples to " eat bread and 
drink wine in remembrance of him'* ? If his 
will, in this matter, has been plainly made 
known, an end is at once put to all dispute. 
It is our indispensable duty to honour his 
authority, by readily complying with his 

And, I may pertinently add here, there are 
some circumstances attending this command 
in special, which are powerfully suited to 
awaken our consideration, and excite in us a 
care of punctual obedience to it. 

It is a command, that has been carefully 
preserved, and faithfully handed down to us, 
by no less than three of the Evangelists. 
Surely, the Spirit ot God, under whose ex- 

a Christian Dutij. 17 

traordinary influence these holy men were 
moved to write the gospels, esteemed the 
sacramental supper an appointment of no 
small importance, and had it in view to bind 
the celebration of it upon the disciples of 
Christ in the strongest manner. Had the 
words, in which our Lord instituted the me- 
morial of his death, been transmitted to us by 
one of the sacred penmen only, they would 
have been obligatory upon all, who own 
Christ for their master ; but, as they have 
been repeatedly conveyed, the obligation is 
more unquestionable, we are more firmly 
bound to pay a religious regard to this in- 
stance of duty ; and if we neglect to do so, 
the guilt, hereby incurred, will be greatly 
heightened. A serious thought this ! and it 
were to be wished, it might be seriously at- 
tended to, by all, who profess themselves chris- 

Another circumstance, attending the com- 
mand we are upon, worthy of particular no- 
tice, is the extraordinary manner in which it 
was conveyed to the apostle Paul. It should 
be remembered here, he was not an apostle, 
nor so much as a believer, when our Lord en- 


18 Sacramental ^^ breaking of Bread" 

joined " the eating of bread, and drinking of 
wine" in commemoration of him. It was af- 
ter this time, and years too, that he became a 
convert to the religion of Jesus, and a fellow- 
labourer with the other apostles in the gospel- 
kingdom. And now it was that he received 
the knowledge of the sacramental institution. 
But how did he receive it ? ** not of men, 
neither was he taught it, but by the revelation 
of Jesus Christ." So he expressly assures us 
himself. Says he, i Cor. ii. 23, " I receiv- 
** ed of the Lord, that which also I delivered 
" unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same 
*' night in which he was betrayed, took bread, 
" and break it, and said, Take, eat, this is my 
*' body, which is broken for you ; this do in 
" remembrance of me." The prefixed 
words, *' I received of the Lord," were evi- 
dently intended to point out the way, in which 
he came by the knowledge of the supper, as a 
divine appointment ; that it was, not by in- 
struction from the other apostles, nor by any 
communication that was merely human ; but 
from Jesus Christ himself. And may it not 
from hence be fairly concluded, that the sa- 
cramental institution was, in the esteem of 
ourLoid, a matter of solemn weight, and 

a Christian Duty, 19 

that he would by no means have it disregard- 
ed ? Why else should he make a revelation 
of it to the apostle Paul immediately from 
heaven ? His taking this extraordinary 
method certainly argues the singular impor. 
tance of the duty, and renders it an inex- 
cusable fault in christians to live in the neg- 
lect of it. 

There is yet another momentous circum- 
stance, accompanying the command to *' break 
bread'* in remembrance of Christ. And this 
is, the time when it was first given out. The 
apostle Paul takes notice of this circumstance, 
and puts a special emphasis on it. His words 
are, " the same night, in which he was 
BETRAYED, the Lord Jesus took bread, and 
said. Take, eat, this is my body which is bro- 
ken for you : This do in remembrance of 
me." Surely, no matter of trifling consider- 
ation would have engaged the attention of 
our Saviour at such a time as this ! He would 
not, at so serious and solemn a juncture, have 
enjoined this duty, and by his own example 
have shewed his disciples how to perform it, 
if he had not thought it worthy of particular re- 
gard, and supposed that his followers would 
think so too. In a dying hour, the most 

20 Sacramental " breaking of Bread^- 

earnest desires of the soul are wont to be ex- 
pressed ; and to such desires the greatest re- 
gard is commonly paid. If a command, or 
request, comes from a dying man, especially 
if he is a friend, a benefactor, whom we love, 
honour and admire, it is apt deeply to impress 
our minds, nor can we easily hear it with in- 
difference and neglect. Such now, though 
in a much higher sense, is the command to 
** break bread" at the sacramental table. It 
is the farewell-request, the last injunction, 
the dying charge, not only of our best friend, 
and greatest benefactor ; but of him, whom 
we call our Master and Lord. Shall we any 
of us, after this, habitually neglect the insti- 
tution of the supper ? Shall we express, in 
our practice, a disregard to a duty, constitu- 
ted such by the blessed Jesus, just as he was 
going to lay down his life for us ? How 
shall we free ourselves from the charge of 
base ingratitude to the greatest lover of our 
souls, if we reckon it a frivolous rite, or are 
wanting in our care to pay all due honour to 
it ? Especially^ as it was enjoined under cir- 
cumstances, so peculiarly fitted to strike our 
minds, work upon our passions, and engage 
our religious observance of it. May it not 

a Christian Duty. 21 

be reasonably questioned, whether we mind 
our Lord's other commands, if we can easily, 
carelessly, and habitually forget, in our practice, 
this, which was his last and dying one, and 
delivered with so much particularity and so- 
lemnity ? 

I have hitherto argued from the authority 
only, by which the Lord's-Supper was insti- 
tuted. If we go on and consider the design 
of this ordinance, and the good effects it is fit- 
ted to produce, we shall find ourselves under 
strong additional obligations readily to pay 
our dutiful regard to it. 

We may be apt to speak of it as nothing 
more, than an enjoined ritual, that has no in- 
trinsick value in it. And it is acknowledged, 
it is not, in itself, simply considered, a natural, 
essential, inseparable part of religion, as the 
love of God and our neighbour ; but a posi- 
tive institution, dependent on the will of Je- 
sus Christ. But it may notwithstanding be 
an important, useful appointment. We have 
seen, from several circumstances already 
mentioned, that our Lord himself entertained 
this thought of it ; and we may be further 
assured of this, from its being his appoint- 
ment, though he had abolished all the rites 

22 Sacrame7ita\ " breaking of Bread'''' 

and ceremonies of the Jewish law. Surely, 
he would not have made the *' breaking and 
eating of bread," in a certain way, a sacred 
rite of Christianity, if he had not thought it 
highly expedient ; if the design in view had 
not been valuable, and the tendency of the 
thing good Hkewise in itself. 

As to the design of the sacramental insti- 
tution, it was to perpetuate, by visible sym- 
bols, ihe memory of a crucified Saviour. 
** This do in remen)brance ol me." The 
thing meant is, not merely that christians, 
when partaking of the Lord's- Supper, should 
employ their thoughts on the sufferings of him, 
who died for them. This, no doubt, was 
one thing intended, and expected ; and it 
would be highly unbecoming, if, while at this 
solemnity, they did not keep in mind, and 
seriously contemplate, the love of their Sa- 
viour, who " died for sin, the just for the un- 
just, that he might brmg us to God." But 
more than this was in the view of Christ, 
when he appointed the Gospel- Supper. His 
intention was, that this should be celebrated, 
in the assemblies of christians, as an open, 
declarative representation of his death. ' •• It 
*' is one thing," says an excellent writer, in- 

a Christian Duiy. 23 

" wardly to remember, and another to cele- 
*' brate,and solemnly to exhibit, a pubiick mq.- 
** morial, by which we not only remember 
" a fact, but avowedly and triumphantly pro^- 
" claim our remembrance, and our desire to 
*' have that remembrance observed, upheld, 
*' and propagated." In this sense, the Lord's- 
Supper was appointed for a declaration, or 
" shewing forth of Christ's death." The sep- 
aration of bread and wine at the sacrament, 
the breaking and eating the one, and the 
pouring out and drinking the other, do, ac- 
cording to the nature of signs, figuratively 
set forth, that Christ's body was broken and 
bruised, and his blood shed as an atonement 
ipr sin. This is what is meant by these 
signs, and they are made easy and intelligible 
to the most vulgar capacity by the words 
themselves, which not only relate the institu- 
tion, but explain its sense ; as in the passo- 
ver, Exod. xii. 25 — 27, the memorial was ex- 
hibited, and the sense of it given. 

When therefore our Saviour appointed the 
breaking and eating of bread, and pouring 
out and drinking of wine, "in remembrance 
of him," he not only intended this as an oc- 
casion for the meditation of christians on his 

24 Sacramental " breaking of Bread^^ 

crucifixion and death, but for preserving, 
and transmitting, the memorial of so impor- 
tant an event from a^e to age, even to the 
end of the world. Thus the passover was a 
memorial throughout the whole time the Jew- 
ish law was in force. And thus the Supper 
of the Lord, celebrated by christians in the 
manner he has prescribed, is an open, publick 
declaration of his dying love, perpetuating 
the memory of that amazing event, which is 
the true basis of all our hopes of forgiveness 
with God. By means of this monument, the 
memory of Christ's death for the salvation of 
a miserable world has been hitherto preserv- 
ed, and will be handed down to the end of 
the world. So great and valuable a design 
was in the view of Christ, when he appointed 
the sacramental supper ! 

And shall we any of us be backward in 
comporting with so glorious an intention ? 
How dvvelleth the love of Christ in us, if we 
have no perception of a readiness to take oc- 
casion, from the instituted signs of his body 
broken, and his blood shed, to keep up in 
our minds the memory of his death ? If we 
can allowedly go out of the assemblies of chris- 
tians, not joining with them in recognising, and 

a Christian Duty. 25 

perpetuating the memorial of the greatest event 
that ever took place in our world, and that is 
closely connected too with the salvation of 
it ? We are obliged to nothing, if we are not 
obliged, in the way of Christ's appointment, 
to celebrate the memory of his death. 

But besides the bonds we are under to ap- 
pear as guests at the Lord's-supper from the val- 
uable end designed by its appointment, we are 
further obliged to this duty in consideration of 
its advantageous tendency, suitably regarded. 
It is an appointment of mercy, powerfully 
adapted to produce spiritually good effects ; 
and cannot fail of doing so, unless it be our 
own fault. The bread, which is broken at 
this ordinance, is an instituted sign that has 
this meaning, the body of Christ was wound- 
ed when he stood in our place and bore our 
iniquities. The wine, that is poured out, is 
an emblematical figure, sigiaifying, that his 
blood was shed for the remission of sins. 
And can we eat of this bread, and drink of 
this wine, in this view of them, and not re- 
ceive benefit herefrom ? The greatest oc- 
casion is hereby given for the excitement, 
and exercise, of all the passions and aifections 

26 Sacramental " breaking of BreacV 

of the human mind ; and if our thcughts are 
suitably engaged and emplojed, great good 
will be the effect ; and this, whether we are 
the subjects of a common faith only, or of 
that faith which is saving. 

If we have, at present, no other faith, than 
that which is the result of serious inquiry, 
under the common influence of the divine 
Spirit, which was the only faith of multitudes 
who partook of the Lord's-Supper, in the 
days of the apostles, this ordinance is happily 
calculated and suited to promote our good. 
More powerful considerations to this end can- 
not be proposed to us,than those that obvious- 
ly present themselves at the sacramental table. 
Here the love of the Father is figuratively set 
forth to us in the strongest point -of light. 
Wherein could he, in a more striking manner, 
have commended his love to us, than by 
sending his Son to die for us, while we were 
yet sinners ? And who, that is in a serious 
frame of mind, can think of this amazing love 
of God, and not feel the emotions of affection 
towards him ? — Here also the love of Christ 
is kindly held out to our view. Would he 
have laid down his life for us, if he had not 
loved us with a love stronger than death ? 

a Christian Duty. 27 

And what can constrain us to live, not to our- 
selves, but to him, if this love of his in dying 
for us has no influence on us? — Here like- 
wise the just desert of sin is, in the most 
lively manner, pointed out to us. Would the 
only Son of God have had laid on him such 
a load of sufferings, if sin had not been meri- 
torious of the high displeasure of almighty 
God ? And if he suffered so much, while he 
only stood in our place, how shall we escape, 
if we will not be persuaded to leave our sins ? 
The reasoning of our Saviour upon thia head 
is easy and just, and must strike our minds 
with force, if we will attend to it, " if they do 
these things in a green tree what shall be done 
in the dry ?" Luke xxiii. 31. In a word, we 
have here preached to us with great plainness, 
though in figurative signs, reconciliation with 
God through the death of Christ, and com- 
plete salvation in eternal Glory, notwithstand- 
ing all our past sins, however multiplied, or 
aggravated, they may have been. And how 
lost must we be to all sense of gratitude, if, 
by such considerations, that *' godly sorrow" 
for sin is not produced in us, which is accom- 
panied with " repentance unto life, never to 
be repented of?" Many, without all doubt. 

28 Sacramental " breakuig of Bread^^ 

in apostolick days, and in every age since, by 
means of what has been suggested to their 
minds at the table of the Lord, and impressed 
on them by his Spirit, have been turned from 
visible christians only, to those that are chris- 
tians in the real temper of their hearts. And 
what has been, may be again. The ordinance 
of the supper is admirably well adapted to 
promote the edification of all that come to it 
in the serious exercise of faith, though their 
faith, at present, should not be such as will 
argut? their being *' born from above." 

And as to those, who are already partakers 
of the grace of God in truth, there is nothing 
in Christianity better suited to help forward 
their growth in the divine life, than their at- 
tendance at the sacramental supper in a seri- 
ous, devout, and considerate manner. It is by 
the dying love of Christ, duly impressed on 
the mind by the Holy Ghost, that holy dis- 
positions are both begun, maintained, increas- 
ed, and perfected in the soul. And what 
more effectual means could have been devis- 
ed to awaken in us a sense of this love of 
Christ, and keep it in a vigorous, lively state, 
than our partaking of that bread and wine, 
which arc instituted symbols of his body 

a Christian Duty. *;19 

broken, and blood shed, for our pardon and 
salvation ? If, in the exercise of faith, we 
employ our thoughts on those amazing ob- 
jects that are here offered to contemplation, it 
must tend, in the strongest manner, to soften 
our hearts, inflame our affections, strengthen 
our graces, and establish our minds in all 
christian virtue ; especially, as we may here 
expect the presence of Christ with us, by his 
Spirit, to guide our thoughts, assist our medi- 
tations, govern our views,encourage our hopes, 
comfort our hearts, and confirm in us the princi- 
ples of goodness. Perhaps,the blessed Jesus is 
never more present with the true christian., 
10 the purposes of spiritual light, love, jo}^ 
and increase of holiness, than when he is at 
his table in a right frame of soul. 

So that, if we have any concern for the wel- 
fare of our souls ; if we desire they should be 
possessed of the grace of God, or improved 
and established in it, we must needs think 
ourselves obliged to celebrate the memorial 
of Christ's dying love ; as this is an institu- 
ted niean so powerfully fitted to produce these 
good effects. 


30 Sacramental " hreaJcing of Bread''' 

I shall subjoin here, still further to excite 
our regLird to the sacramental supper, that it 
is a visible mark, sign, or badge of the chris- 
tian profession. The wisdom of God has al- 
ways seen fit, under all the dispensations of 
his kingdom, to appoint some sacred visible 
rite, as a distinguishing mark, pointing out 
his professing people. Circumcision was the 
instituted rite of distinction, to the seed of 
Abraham after the flesh. In addition hereto,, 
the passover, under the law, was appointed! 
among other ends, to be a sign between God, 
and the nation of the Jews ; that is, a publick, 
solemn rite, by which they might be known 
to be his people, in distinction from the other 
nations of the earth. And of such importance 
were these instituted rites, in the esteem of 
God, that the despisers of .them were per- 
emptorily ordered by his authority to " be cut 
oft' from his people ;" as not having their 
proper mark, and therefore no right to their 
advantages. Christianity also has its distin- 
guishing rites. Meeting together for *' sup- 
plications, prayers, intercessions, and giving 
of thanks," and die like publick exercises of 
piety, are not peculiar to the religion of Jesus, 
but common to every other. Baptism, and 

OL Christian Duly. 31 

the Lord's-supper, are the sacred visible rites, 
by which Christ would have his disc; pies and 
followers known to be such in distinction 
from the rest of the world. By baptism, which 
can be received but once, agreeably to the 
mind of our Saviour, they are initiated disci- 
ples ; but it is principally by celebrating the 
Lord's- Supper, and doing it frequently in a 
stated course, that they are distinguished as 
his followers. By this they were known as 
such in the days of the apostles. Their as- 
sembling together to " break bread" was their 
appropriate character, and poii^ted them out 
as the disciples of Christ. And so it ought to 
be now. We should be known to be chris- 
tians by having communion in the emblems of 
Christ's body and blood. A crucified Christ 
is the true basis of the religion of Jesus, in 
distinction from every other ; and the publick 
solemn celebration of him in this character, in 
the way he has appointed, is the proper dis- 
tinctive mark of our pi ofession as his disciples. 
By this we " glory in the cross oi Christ," 
proclaiming our adherence to him, and that 
we have no hope towards Cxod but through 
Kim. But if we are neglectors of the Lord's- 
Supper, we declare virtually, and in reality of 

32 Sacramental^^ hreahing of BreacV^ 

sense, that we are ashamed of the proper chris- 
tian budge. And, whatever else we do in reli- 
gion, we leave that undone which is the institu- 
ted visible mark to distinguish us as Christ's 

I have now said all that I intended in illus- 
tration of the bonds we are under to "break 
bread," as Christ has commanded. 

Let what has been offered, be seriously re- 
flected on by those, who have made it their 
practice to treat the table of the Lord with 
neglect. You have violated the strony^est 
bonds, and must be convinced of it, if you 
will but consider. Is not the supper of the 
Lord a plain institution of the gospel ? Has 
not Jesus Christ peremptorily said *' do this 
in remembrance of me ?" Can you call in 
question the truth of this command ? Have 
you not as good reason to believe, that he has 
instituted the sacramental supper, as baptism, 
or the duty of attending to the word preached? 
And will you, notwithstanding, pay no regard 
to this gospel ordinance ? Is he not the con- 
stituted sovereign in the kingdom of grace ? 
Do vou not call him Master and Lord ? And 
is he not your Saviour, as well as Lawgiver 
and Judge ? Has he not died a sacrifice to 

a Christian Duty. 3S 

atone for your sins? Have you any hope 
of the pardonhig mercy of God, but through 
the merit of his blood, that blood of his, this 
institution is a memorial of? And will you, 
in opposition to all these constraining motives, 
go on in the neglect of it ? God forbid that 
you should any longer disregard the authority 
of his Son Jesus Christ, and betray ingratitude 
to him for his astonishing love, by taking no 
practical notice of his dying request to his 
disciples and followers. 


ACTS ii. 42. 

And they continued stcudfastli/ — {71 breaking of bread. 

J_ HAVE already taken occasion, from these 
words, to lay before you, in a plain and faith- 
ful manner, the oblit^ations christians are 
under to ** break bread" in obedience to 
Christ, and in commemoration of his dying 
love to sinners. 

What I now propose is, a serious address, 
relative to the subject we have been upon, to 
the following classe*^ of persons. To the se- 
curely wicked ; to the careless and indiffer- 
ent ; to those who neglect the Lord's- Supper, 
though it is their care to observe the other 

A serious address to several Classes of People. 35 

institutions of Christianity ; to those who call 
in question the perpetuity of the command to 
" break and eat bread" at the sacramental 
table ; and, finally, to those who are sensible 
of their duty in this regard, and would gladly 
attend it, but that they are hindred by various 
doubts, fears, and spiritual difficulties. 

By thus methodising this address, it will 
obviously and naturally fall in my way to con- 
sider the sacramental neglect in every point 
of view, and to offer thereupon what may be 
thought proper; not leaving untouched any 
objection, scruple, fear, or perplexity, however 
minute, any have mentioned, within my 
knowledge, in excuse for themselves. 

I am, in the first place, to address a few 
words to the securely wicked, those who lead 
a vicious and ungodly life, love the ways of 
sin, and walk in them, not perceiving within 
themselves an inclination to cease from doing 
evil, but a disposition and resolution rather to- 
go on in the practice of iniquity. Would to 
God it were an abuse of christians, so called, 
to suppose there were any among them of this 
character. But it is a fact too glaringly evi- 
dent to admit of a denial. To such I would 

36 A serious address to 

It is not expected of yow, nor indeed de- 
sired, that 3 ou would, in your present temper, 
of mind, come to the table of the Lord. It 
would be a profanation of thjit which- is sa- 
cred for persons of your character to partake of 
the sviP.bols of Christ's bodv and blood ; and 
should you attend any other service of piety, 
it Would be only for fcsshion's sake, and in 
hypocrisy. You are the wicked ones, of whom 
it is declared, in the sacred books, that " their 
prayers are an abomination to the Lord." 
You are the sinners, of whom the holy God 
makes that demand, *' when ye come to ap- 
pear before me, who hath required this at your 
hands?" You are the persons, as though 
pointed out by^ name ; to them he applies, in 
that most solemn language, *' what hast thou 
to do, that thou shouldst take my covenant into 
thy mouth ?" But remember, though the 
wicked state you are allowedly in is a good 
reason, why you should not dare to partake of 
the Lord's- Supper, it is, at the same time, a 
reason that will render you speechless, when 
you are called to stand before the bar of the 
coming judgment. Far from cancelling your 
obligations to thisduty, it heinously aggravates 
your guilt in the neglect of it. You are the 

several Classes of People. 37 

more inexcusable, as your being altogether 
unfitted for this, or indeed any other sacred 
performance, is owing to your vicious indul- 
gences as willing servants of corruption. Be 
assured, your state, religiously speaking, is 
lamentably sad. You will only mock God, 
should you pretend to draw nigh to him in 
the exercises of piety. And yet, your guilt 
in not doing this, instead of being 'lessened 
by your being thus sinful, will be greatly 
enhanced. Is then the condition you are in, 
a safe one ? Canyon be easy in it ? The Lord 
take pity on you ! Unless you are awakened 
to attention, and brought to a sight of your 
sinfulness and danger, you are undone for 
the future world. This is the first thing 
necessary in order to your recovery. If it 
shall please the father of mercies, and God of 
all grace, to alarm your fears, rouse your con- 
sciences, and put you upon seeking to him 
in real earnest to compassionate your case, 
there will be hope concerning you. You 
may, if he should graciously do this, with 
propriety use the appointed means in order to 
a "deliverance from the bondage of corrup- 
tion into the glorious liberty of the sons of 

38 A serious Address to 

God;" and you may do it, humbly hoping 
for success, through him who has been the 
propitiation for the sins of men. 

The careless and indifferent are next to l>e 
applied ta. Their proper character is, not 
that they are totally thoughdess, but insuffi- 
ciently so ; not that they are altogether un- 
concerned about the affairs of their souls and 
another world, but their concern about these 
infinitely important matters is light and in- 
considerable ; not that they never have any 
religious motions working in them, but they 
are weak, fluctuating and ineffectual ; inso- 
much that they can indulge to carelessness in 
regard of the duties of piety, and yet keep 
their minds in ease and peace ; yea, they can 
live in the habitual neglect of them, or, which 
is as bad, a mere formal, customary perform- 
ance of them, and perceive no uneasiness on 
diis account. Many there are, and among 
those too who would take it ill not to be 
called christians, whose just character has 
been here delineated. To such it may not 
be amiss to say. 

Your great unhappiness is, that religion 
has taken no fast hold of your hearts. You 
are not only strangers to the power of god- 

several Classes of People. 39 

liness but to that state of mind that is only 
introductory to it. It is seldom, if ever, 
that persons take up the practice of religion 
with engagedness of heart, until they have 
first had excited in them such perceptions 
of God, and their obligations to him, as are 
incompatible with that indifference of spirit 
which distinguishes the persons to whom I 
am now speaking. Instead therefore of be- 
ing christians in truth, you have not as yet 
attained to that serious state of mind, that 
sense of God, of sin and holiness, which are 
common to those who are but just entering 
upon the business of religion in good 

The proper advice to you is, to endeavour, 
in all suitable ways, to get awakened in you a 
becoming concern about the infinitely inter- 
esting affliirs of your souls, and everlasting 
salvation. WiUiout this, if you do any thing 
in religion, it will be a lip-service only. If 
you " honour God with your mouths, your 
hearts will be far from him." And, perhaps, 
duty thus performed, had as well been omit- 
ted. Be sure, the supper of the Lord should 
not be attended in this superficial, not to say 
hypocritical manner. It would be a dishonour 

40 A serious Jddress to ^ 

to the memory of Christ's dying love, and of 
no service to those, who^ in this heedless way, 
should join in the celebration of it. Not that 
persons will be discharged from guilt, if they 
neglect duty in general, or the duty of partak- 
ing of the sacramental supper in particular, 
on account of the inconsiderate unconcerned 
frame of mind they are habitually in. This 
would be to suppose, that one sin might be an 
excuse for another, than which nothing is 
more palpably absurd. Your sin, in neglect- 
ing your duty, will be the more heinous in 
God's sight, as taking rise from so bad a cause 
as that of a thoughtless state of soul, rendec- 
ing you unmeet for the performance of it. 

The first thing therefore proper for you is, 
to pay regard to that inspired direction, " con- 
sider, and shew yourselves men." Make us^ 
of the power of reflection you are endowed 
with, and is your distinguishing glory as men, 
reasonable creatures. And be much in the 
exercise of it ; taking off your thoughts from 
the world, its vanities, gaieties, amusements, 
riches, and pleasures, and employing them on 
those spiritual objects that will tend to soften 
vour hearts, warm your affections, and animate 

several Classes of People. ^ 41 

your resolutions and endeavours. Without 
this care, it will be impossible, humanly speak- 
ing, but that you should remain destitute of 
any lively sense of God and religion, and in- 
different to things of a spiritual nature. It is 
by meditation, serious, frequent, devout 
meditation, that the mind is impressed, and 
a concern about the *'one thing needful" at first 
excited, and afterwards maintained and cher- 
ished. And you can be at no loss for objects, 
which, if solemnly meditated on, in the exer- 
cise of a rational faith only, would mightily 
tend to awaken your consciences, and promote 
in you a becoming solicitude about your high- 
est interest. Think of God, your relation to 
him, your dependence on him, and the invio- 
lable obligations you are under to love, honour 
and serve him. Think on Christ, what he has 
done, and suffered, and is now doing at God's 
right hand for your salvation ; what he expects 
from you in return for all this goodness, and 
what you may expect from him, if you treat it 
with ingratitude and base neglect. Think on 
the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ a second 
time, his coming in the glory of his father, and 
in his own glory, with the holy angels, to judge 
the world in righteousness, when you shall 

42 A serious Address to 

Stand before his tribunal, and, if you have not 
been careful to approve yourselves his faithful 
and obedient servants, shall receive that sen- 
tence from his mouth, " depart from me, ye 
cursed, into the fire prepared for the devil and 
his angels." Oh amazing object of contem- 
plation ! What can be more powerfully adapt- 
ed to move your fear, awaken your concern, 
and engage your earnest endeavours, that you 
may be found of your Judge, in that day, 
among those, to whom he will say, *' come ye 
blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom pre- 
pared for you from the foundation of the 

Another sort of persons to be spoken to 
are those, who, instead of indulging in vice, 
are blameless in their lives. Their turn of 
mind is serious and considerate. They make 
it their practice to perform the other duties of 
religion, though not that of remembering 
Christ at his table. It is their care to " pray 
to their father, who seeth in secret ;" the 
"morning and evening sacrifice" is daily going 
up as "incense" from their houses ; they come 
to the " sanctuary" at the stated times for 
worship, and join with God's people in the 

several Classes of People. 4$ 

publick offices of religion, the celebration of the 
sacrament only exceptecj. Nor is this a mere 
customary business, a matter of form only. 
They esteem it their duty, are conscientious in 
the doing it, and it would occasion uneasy re- 
flections on themselves, should they needlessly 
neglect it. Some there are, it may be hoped 
a good number, of whom this is the just char- 
acter. To such I would say, 

It is to your commendation, that you at- 
tend these duties of piety. But what good 
account can you give of your leaving the other 
undone ? Has Christ, the law-giver, King, 
and Judge of his Church, distinguished be- 
tween the sacramental institution, and the 
other duties of religion, excusing your observ- 
ance of theformer, if you practically regard 
the latter ? Has he not rather peremptorily re- 
quired your obedience to them all ? Is it not 
as truly his will, explicitly and solemnly pub- 
lished, that you should celebrate the memori- 
al of his dying love, as that you should pray 
to God, or take heed to the word of doctrine 
or exhortation ? And if it is proper you should 
obey him in these instances, why not in the 
other ? Is not his authority the same in all 

44 A serious Address to 

these requirements ? And will you do just 
honour to it, if, while you are obedient in son^e 
instances, you are disobedient in another ? 
Your attending the other exercises of piety 
will not be accounted another day a good rea- 
son for the neglect of this. It will rather be 
esteemed an evidence of deficiency in your 
regard to the government of him who is your 
professed Master and Lord. It is not enough, 
my brethren, that you give your attendance on 
prayer, and the word preached. You are as 
much obliged to " break bread" at the Lord's- 
Supper. You may no more omit the one 
than the other. They are equally your duty : 
•or, should there be any diiference, yotir obli- 
gations to pay a becoming respect to the sacra- 
mental institution are the strongest, and should 
make you more especially careful not to treat 
it with neglect. *' This do in remembrance 
of me," is the dying command of your Saviour, 
as well as Lord ; and it is a command that 
enjoins your remembrance of the greatest love 
of the best friend. You are bound therefore 
in gratitude as well as duty to yield a ready, 
cheerful obedience to it. It is strange that 
any, who have upon their minds a serious 

several Clasises of People. 43 

sense of religion, and are careful in other re- 
spects to do the duties of it, should yet live 
month after month, and year after year, in the 
omission of this. It is more strange still, that 
they should be uneasy in their minds, should 
they neglect those duties, while yet they can 
go on in the neglect of this, and meet with little 
or no disturbance from the resentments of 
conscience. How far this constant omission 
of duty, in so important an article, may consist 
with the truth of grace, belongs only to Christ 
to determine. Unhappy mistakes, scruples, 
and fears, relative to the Lord's- Supper, 
(which may come under consideration in their 
proper place) will doubtless extenuate their 
fault : But when our Lord has so clearly and 
fully made known his will upon this head, it 
is difficult to conceive of any thing that will 
be sufficient to discharge us from the guilt of 
ingratitude to our Saviour, and the want of a 
due regard to his authority, as our rightful 
sovereign, while we make it our practice to 
turn away from his table. 

Another class of persons still may be ap- 
plied to ; and they are those who pretend that 
the supper of the Lord is a temporary appoint- 
ment, designed for the apostolick days only, 

46 A serious Address to 

confined to them, and ceasing with them as 
to its use and obligation. 

To such it must be said, their notion of 
this matter is glaringly a mistaken one. And 
it may with all freedom be thus spoken of, 
as the apostle^ Paul has expressly assured us, 
and upon previous instruction immediately 
from Jesus Christ himself, that the ** Lord's 
death" is to be *' shewed forth until he 
comes," 1 Cor. 11. 26. What is the apostle's 
meaning in the phrase he here uses, " until 
he comes ?" Surely he cannot intend the 
coming of Christ by his Spirit ; for, in this 
sense, he had already come, and remarkably 
too on the day of penticost, when the Spirit 
was poured out upon the apostles in miracu- 
lous gifts and powers. Neither could he 
mean the coming of Christ to destroy Jerusa- 
lem. This event, however awful in its ef- 
fects upon the Jewish nation, had no immedi-. 
ate reference to the gentile church at Corinth. 
There would be no pertinency in the apostle's 
arguing with this church, in relation to their 
observance of the Lord's Supper, upon such 
an interpretation of his words. And there is 
no other " coming of Christ," spoken of in 

several Classes of People. 47 

scripture, but his *' coming" at the end of the 
world, " in the glory of his Father, with his 
holy angels," when a period will be put to the 
administration of God's kingdom in its present 
form. So that, if we may depend upon the 
apostle Paul, the sacramental supper was not 
a temporary institution, but a perpetual one ; 
not designed for the primitive christians in the 
first age only, but for all christians in all ages 
to the end of the world. For the death of 
Christ is to be " shewed forth until he come," 
and he will not come until the ** mystery of 
God 'is finished," and "time shall be no 

Besides, the passages of scripture which 
treat of this ordinance enjoin the observation 
of it, and point out the manner in which it 
should be done, were wrote, in the divine in- 
tention, for the use and benefit of christians 
throughout all ages, and not for their's only to 
whom they were immediately directed. There 
is no christian, in any part, or age of the world, 
but is as truly concerned, as the christians at 
Corinth, in that apostoiick advice, 1 Cor. xi, 
25, " let a man examine himself, and so let 
him eat of this bread, and drink of this cup." 

48 A ser^ious Jddress to 

The end also proposed by our Saviour, in 
the appointment of this sacred rite, is a clear 
and full proof that it is of perpetual continu. 
ance, and obligatory upon christians in all 
ages until the end of time. Whatever other 
ends might be in the view of our Saviour, this 
was certainly one, that the remembrance of 
his death, by a figurative representation of it, 
publickly recognised, might not be forgot, but 
kept strong and vigorous in the minds of 
christians. And if it was at all needful, in this 
way, to keep alive the memory of Christ's 
death, it was surely as needful in after ages, 
as in the first days of Christianity, There was 
indeed less occasion for this appointment at 
first, because less danger of a forgetfulness of 
Christ's death. In succeeding ages, there 
would be increased danger lest he should be 
forgot. And that the remembrance of him 
might be preserved, continued, and upheld, 
he instituted this memorial. So that it was 
more especially designed for after ages, who, 
by this emblematical representation of him 
as crucified and slain, might have the reality 
of this fact, the great foundation of the chris- 
tian scheme, lively in their minds. The Ion- 

several Classes of People, 49 

ger it is since Christ's body was broken, and 
his blood shed, the more need there is of this 
memorial of it ; and there will be need of it, 
and continually increasing need, until time 
shall be no more. His death therefore must be 
** shewed forth," in the way of divine appoint- 
ment, *' until he comes." The obHgation to 
thisjinstead of being lessened, grows stronger, 
in proportion to the distance from the time of 
his death, as a sacrifice for sin. 

It may be added to what has been said, 
that the ordinance of the supper is as suitably 
and powerfully adapted, in its nature to be 
beneficial to christians in all ages, as in the 
first days of the gospel. It offers the same 
occasion, by figurative, yet expressive signs, 
for contemplation on the most affecting and 
interesting objects. It has the same virtue it 
ever had, and will retain it, in all future time, 
to awaken the attention, to excite affection, to 
melt the heart, and, in a word, to beget and 
confirm every real principle of goodness in 
the soul. It has all along been productive of 
these happy efFects,it still produces them, and 
is equally fitted to answer so valuable an end 

50 Addres& to several Classes of People. 

in time yet to come. Why then should the 
use of the ordinance be discontinued ? Why 
should it be thought a temporary one ? There 
is the same reason for its being a perpetual 
appointment, as for its being an appointment 
at all. It is equally fitted for the use of 
christians at all times, and may be, unless 
from their own faultiness, of like benefit to 
them. It would therefore be a dishonour 
to Christ, by putting an undue limitation on 
his goodness to his church, tc suppose, that 
he should design so useful, so beneficial an 
institution for his disciples only in the first 
age, when they all, in all ages, might reap the 
same spiritual profit therefrom. 

There is yet another sort of persons to be 
spoken to, the fearful and scrupulous, those 
who labour with doubts, and have their minds 
perplexed with difficulties. But, as my de- 
sign here is, to be particular and full, that I 
may, if possible remove out of the minds of 
this kind of persons all scruples and fears, 
that they may come with comfort and plea- 
sure to the Lord's table, I must defer what I 
have to say, until some further opportunity, if 

God shall please to grant it. 



ACTS ii. 42. 

And they continued steadfastly — in breaking of bread. 

Several classes of persons have been ap- 
plied to, from these words, in relation to 
an attendance on the sacramental " breaking 
of bread." 

It remains to speak to the scrupulous and 
fearful, those who are kept from this ordi- 
nance, not from a thoughtless, careless temper 
of mind, much less an indulged contempt of 
the authority of Jesus Christ ; but by reason of 
doubts and difficulties that lie in the way of 
their obedience to it. These are many and 
various. It shall be my endeavour to take 

52 Religious Fears and Scruples 

due notice of them all, so far as I am acquain- 
ted with them ; not studying to range them in 
any nice order, but rather bringing them to 
view as they may occur to mind. 

The first ground of fear I would mention is, 
the apprehension many have of some peculiar 
kind of sanctity in this ordinance. They 
imagine it to be holy in a sense different from 
that, in whichthe other institutions of Christian- 
ity are holy ; and are therefore scrupulous, as 
to their attendance on it ; while yet they can, 
without difficulty, attend the other appoint- 
ments of gospel worship. 

In order to remove this ground of fear, I 
would not say a word to lessen, in the minds 
of any, a just sense of that holy reverence with 
which they should always approach to the 
table of Ihe Lord ; but it may, at the same 
time, be proper to put persons upon due care 
to guard themselves against superstitious 
notions, respecting the holiness of the bread 
and wine, of which they eat and drink at the 
sacramental supper. These, it may be, are 
the source, at bottom, of the scrupulous fear 
I am now considering. It takes rise, not from 
just sentiments of the nature, design, or ten- 

mentioned and conRidered. 53 

dency of the Lord's- Supper ; but from a mind 
tinctured with superstitious awe and venera- 
tion. This is certainly the truth, if we ima- 
gine, that holiness, in any degree, is transmit- 
ted into the bread and wine by their consecra- 
tion to the sacramental use. Many, I have 
reason to think, entertain this thought of the 
the matter. But it is entirely a false notion. 
The bread and wine are no otherwise holy, 
after their consecration, than as they are sepa- 
rated to an holy use, and in this way become 
capable of being improved to promote holiness 
in us. The ordinance of the supper is not 
therefore holy in a sense any way different 
from that, in which the other institutions of 
religion are holy. They are all holy, as in- 
tended, and adapted, to make men holy, and 
ought practically to be regarded without dis- 
tinction, or discrimination. Surely we can- 
not, upon just and solid grounds, scruple the 
use of the sacramental institution, merely be- 
cause it is an holy one, while we freely use the 
other institutions of religion, all which are 
holy also, and in the same sense precisely too, 
in which the supper of the Lord is holy. Yea, 
if the " breaking and eating of bread" at the^ 

54 Religious Fears and Somplea 

sacramental-table, should be esteemed, even 
more holy than any other acts of instituted re- 
ligion, it would be so far from being a good 
reason why we should not do this duty, that 
it ought rather more powerfully to constrw^in 
us to it. For why should the Lord's-Supper 
be esteemed more holy,than the other appoint- 
ments of christian worship ? It can justly be 
so in no sense but this, its being better fitted 
to promote holiness in us. And shall any, 
who profess a serious sense of God, and the 
obligations of religion, scruple the use of the 
sacramental institution for this reason. They 
should rather look upon themselves so much 
the more bound to a faithful, constant, con- 
scientious observance of it ; Yea, so far as 
they have it in their view to become holy, 
or to be made more so, by their attendance on 
the institutions of the gospel, they should be 
particular in their care not to neglect this, as 
it is the most powerfully suited to promote 
this good end. 

I shall subjoin here a remark not unworthy 
of notice. It is this. Christians, for many 
ages, by means of the popish doctrine of tran- 
substantiation, entertained superstitious, not 

mentioned and examined. 55 

to say idolatrous, notions of the sacramental 
bread and wine ; supposing that they were 
converted into the real body and blood olt" 
Jesus Christ. And though the doctrine, from 
whence these false notions took rise, has, since 
the reformation, been discarded by those who 
are called protestants ; yet it may be feared, 
that some tincture of the old leaven does still 
remain in the minds of too many. Thus 
much, at least, may naturally and reasonably 
be supposed, that christians, upon separating 
from the church of Rome, retained so much 
of their former superstition, as to place too 
great a difference between the sacramental 
supper, and other religious duties. For this 
reason they abstained from an attendance at 
the Lord's table, while they observed the 
other institutions of gospel worship ; and, by 
this means, there might be propagated, in the 
minds of many, from that day to this^ such a 
notion of the peculiar holiness of this ordi- 
nance, as that they are hardly brought to pay 
a practical regard to it. Whether this is a 
just account of the matter, or not, it is certain, 
that many serious, good people entertain mis- 
taken apprehensions of the holiness of this 
ordinance ; otherwise they would not be 

56 Religious Fears and Scruples 

induced, from such apprehensions, to abstain 
from the use of it. It can, with propriety 
and truth, be called an noly ordinance, only 
as it was appointed to an holy purpose and use, 
and as it is a proper and powerful means to 
make the observers of it holy, according to 
man's measure as God is holy. And surely, 
as has been said, this is a good reason why 
we should join in celebrating the Lord's-Sup- 
per ; but a very bad one why w^e should neg- 
lect to do so. Surely, the reasoning cannot 
be just, the supper of the Lord is holy, as be- 
ing a divine appointment happih^ calculated to 
make men holy ; I ought not therefore to be 
a partaker at it, I may not approach to it. How 
glaringly absurd is such arguing as this ! 
Whereas, the arguing, on the contrary, is 
strictly right, and strongly conclusive, the sa- 
cramental-supper was instituted with a view 
to make men holy, and is powerfully fitted to 
such a purpose, it is therefore my wisdom, my 
interest, my duty, to be a partaker at it ; and 
the more holy it is, on account of its tendency 
and suitableness to make men holy, the more 
wise I shall approve myself, the more I shall 
consult my truest interest, the more will my 
conduct agree with what is right, proper, and 

mentioned and considered. 57 

fit, while I am instant, steady, and diligent in 
paying a religious regard^ in my practice, to 
this sacred institution of the gospel. 

So that, upon the whole, the fear any seri- 
ous, thoughtful, christians may have on their 
minds, relative to their participation of the 
Lord's-Supper, as taking rise from the holi- 
ness of this rite of gospel worship, has really 
no just foundation. You should rather fear, 
my brethren, lest you should dishonour Christ 
by neglecting a divinely appointed mean, and 
the most wisely and powerfully adapted one, 
in order to your being holy, while you neglect 
to give your presence at the sacramental table. 
Yoti cannot indeed expect to be holy, to be 
sure not eminently so, while you disuse this 
special and powerful means in order to it. 

Another thing, that keeps some from the 
gospel-supper, is a fear lest they should not 
live as may be reasonably expected of those, 
who " eat and drink in Christ's presence ;" 
they think, and with great truth and justice, 
that all, who come to the table of the Lord, 
should adorn their character, as the disciples 
of Christ, by a well-ordered conversation ; 
causing their " light to shine before others, 
that, seeing their good works, they may glo- 

58 Religious Fears and Scruples 

rify their Father in heaven." But they fear, 
lest they should not " walk worthy of the 
Lord." Others, they observe, are too fre- 
quently faulty in this regard, to the reproach 
of Christ, and scandal of his holy religion ; 
and, fearing lest they should be thus faulty, 
they are restrained from coming to the sup- 
per of their Lord ; imagining they hnd better 
be non-attendants at it, than run the hazard of 
this guilt. 

To such I would say, your fear is just, but 
does not operate in a right manner. You 
ought to be ''jealous over yourselves with a 
godly jealousy ;" encouraging a fear, lest you 
should act an unworthy part, and dishonour 
your Saviour, by a walk in the world unbeco- 
ming the gospel, and the highest profession of 
its bonds on you. But then, it should be 
your care to govern the influence of this fear, 
so as that, instead of being an hindrance to you 
in duty, it may rather invigorate your endea- 
vours to put it fully in practice. Your fear is, 
lest you should not honour your profession ; 
and it is a fear that well becomes all the pro- 
fessors of Christianity. But what ought, in 
true reason, to be its operation ? Surely, not 
to restrain you from making a profession. 

mentioned and considered. 59 

This would be a counter action to its proper 
design, and genuine tendency. It should 
rather put you upon greater watchfulness 
and circumspection. It should quicken 
your zeal, and make you more earnest 
and resolute in your endeavours, under 
the blessing of God, to behave in the world 
with that sobriety, purity, and righteousness, 
which become those who sit down as guests 
at the table of Christ. 

It is observable, the holy apostles were 
afraid lest those who professed faith in Christ, 
and were admitted to break that bread, which 
is the instituted memorial of his broken body, 
should be unmindful of the bonds of God that 
were upon them, and live in a manner unwor- 
thy of their character as the disciples of Christ. 
But how did their fear operate ? Not by ad- 
vising men to forbear professing Christ, or 
eating or drinking with him at his table. Not 
a word of this tendency is to be met with, any 
where in the New-Testament .But, in conse- 
quence of this fear, their exhortations were to 
" hold fast the profession of their faith ;" to 
'' take heed, watch and pray ;" to be dihgent 
and laborious that their walk in the world 
might be *' worthy of that God who had cal- 

60 Religious Fears and Scruples 

led them into his kingdom." And this should 
be the influence of the fear I am now speak- 
ing of ; and this will be its influence, if duly 
regulated. It will not restrain any from re- 
membering the dying love of their Lord, in 
the way of his appointment, but rather first 
urge them to it, and then make them earnest 
and faithful in their endeavours to behave, in 
all respects, as those ought to do, who are ad- 
mitted to so near communion with their 
Saviour and Lord. 

1 sliall not think it either impertinent, or un- 
seasonable, if I add a word here to those com- 
municants, who, by their unguarded, unbe- 
coming conduct, are the occasion of that fear 
in the minds of many, which restrains them 
from joining with their christian brethren iu 
partaking of the symbols of Christ's body and 
blood. It is too glaring a truth to be disown- 
ed, that, among the guests at the sacramental 
supper, there are too many who live as though 
they were insensible of the bonds they are un- 
der to " order their conversation in simplicity 
and godly sincerity, not by fleshly wisdom, 
but by the grace of God." Instead of being 
bright examples of those virtues that are orna- 
mental to christians, and honorarv to the reli- 

7nenHoned and considered. 6 1 

gion they profess, they are too much confor- 
med to this evil world, and appear too like 
the men of it. The plain truth is, the unhal- 
lowed lives of those, who sit down at the 
Lord's table, has been a stumbling-block to 
many serious, considerate, well-disposed per- 
sons. Far from exciting them to glorify God 
by the lustre of these graces, they have rather, 
by their unchristian behaviour of themselves, 
made them afraid of professing Christ, lest 
they also should be a reproach both to him, 
and his holy religion. This, my brethren, 
is utterly a fault. We who " call Christ 
Lord, Lord, and eat and drink in his pres- 
ence," should above all things make it our 
care to " walk worthy of him unto all pleas- 
ing." We should keep at the utmost dis- 
tance from every thing vicious and immoral ; 
and not only so, but should be found in the 
practice of all the virtues that are amiable 
and praise- worthy. We should be grave and 
modest in our behaviour, sober and use- 
ful in our discourse, diligent and faith- 
full in our respective calHiigs, just and hon- 
est in our dealings. We should daily live in 
the exercise of meekness, patience, faith, tern- 

62 Religious Fears and Scruples 

perance, humility. We should be court- 
eous in our converse, gentle, kind, peaceable, 
and obliging in our carriage ; and, as we have 
opportunity, should, according to our ability, 
** do good to all men, especially to the hous- 
hold of faith." In a word, ** whatsoever 
things are true, whatsoever things are honest, 
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things 
are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, what- 
soever things are of good report, if there be 
any virtue, and if there be any praise, we 
should think on these things," so think on 
them as to exhibit in our lives a conspicuous 
example of them : So shall we honour our- 
selves, and reflect glory on our Saviour and 
master, Jesus Christ ; and, instead of deter- 
ring others from the table of the Lord, we 
shall, in the most constraining manner, invite 
and urge them to be present as guests at it. — 
But to leave this digression, if any should 
please so to call it. 

Another difficulty still in the way of some, 
is a fear, lest, if they should be overcome to 
commit sin after they have ate and drank at 
the' sacramental supper, they should never ob- 
tain forgiveness. This may not be a difficul- 

mentioned and exainined. 63 

ty that has perplexed the minds of many ; but 
some, I have reason to think, are kept from 
the Lord's- Supper through fear, taking rise 
from this view of the matter. 

But it is a fear altogether imaginary. * No- 
thing in all the Bible gives the least counte- 
nance to it. Far from this, we are assured, 
in that sacred book, ** that if any man should 
sin," be it before, or after, his breaking and 
eating bread at the sacramental table, *' we 
have an advocate with the Father, Jesus the 
righteous, who has been the propitiation for 
our sins.'* And this Jesus, who died a sacri- 
fice for transgression,has himself most peremp- 
torily declared in terms too plain and express to 
be easily misunderstood, that but one sin, the 
sin of blaspheming the Holy Ghost, is excep- 
ted out of the gospel-grant of pardoning mer- 
cy. So that, whatever our sins may have 
been, and whensoever committed, whether be- 
fore or after a profession of Christ, and eat- 
ing and drinking in his presence, they come 
within the reach of offered and promised for- 
giveness, and shall certainly, upon our repent- 
ance, be pardoned for the sake of Christ, and 
on account of that atonement he has made for 
the sins of men. 

64 Religious Fears and Scruples 

It is true, sins that are commtited after the 
highest profession of love to Christ, and sub- 
jection to his authority, are aggravated in their 
guilt ; but whatever aggravating circumstan- 
ces attend then, they are not such as will ob- 
struct the bestowment of God's mercy in the 
remission of them, in regard of those, who, in 
the exercise of true repentance, repair to him. 
for this blessing. Those words of the apos- 
tle Paul contain enough in them, forever to 
satisfy us of this, " where sin has abounded, 
grace does much more abound ;" though we 
should take care we do not abuse this grace, 
by encouraging ourselves to sin, tliat God's 
grace in the pardon of it may abound towards 
us. This would argue the basest ingratitude. 
Shall we be evil, because God is good ? God 
forbid ! 

It is true likewise, if any, after such serious 
impressions as have put them upon an atten- 
dance '' on the word, breaking of bread, and 
prayer," relapse into thoughtlessness and se- 
curity, insomuch that they can sin wilfully,'* 
and in an habitual course, '' the latter end with 
them is worse than the beginning ;" the dan- 
ger awfully great, lest they should '* fail of the 

mentioned and considered. 65 

grace of God" and be '^ not again renewed to 
repentance." But the case even of this kind 
of persons is not without all hope. It is pos- 
sible they may be awakened to a just sense of 
things, and be brought to that " repentance 
which is unto life, not to be repented of ;" 
though their state, it must be acknowledged, 
is hazardous ; as they cannot be renewed by 
repentance without extreme difficulty. 

The apostle Paul sometimes supposes, that 
professors of religion, even those among them 
who have been admitted to the highest privi- 
leges of God's visible kingdom, may shame- 
fully backslide. And what does he say here- 
upon ? Does he put any upon neglecting gos- 
pel institutions through fear, lest they should 
afterwards relapse into sin ? Far from this, he 
advises them to be steady and persevering in 
the use of them ; and to take occasion from 
fear of a relapse, to be cautious and circum- 
spect, to look well to themselves, to be upon 
their guard, and to hold out against all oppo- 
sition in the way of well-doing, that, being 
faithful to the death, they may obtain the 
crown of eternal life. And this should be 
the influence of our fear, respecting sin after 

66 Religious Fears and Scruples 

having ate and drank at the table of the Christ. 
Instead of keeping us from this duty, it should 
keep us upon our guard, and make us the 
more watchful over our hearts and lives. 

Another difficulty yet in the way of many 
to their attendance at the sacramental supper, 
is, a fear, lest they are not prepared for so 
sacred an ordinance. 

To this it might be sufficient to say, the 
duty of this kind of persons is so plain, as not 
to admit of dispute. They should instantly 
set about the work of preparation, and give 
themselves no case, until it is accomplished ; 
and the rather, because, if it is the real truth, 
that they are essentially wanting in a prepared- 
ness, in the frame of their minds, for an ap- 
proach to the table of Christ, they can have no 
good hope towards God. They are unmeet 
for the kingdom of heaven, and shall not be 
admitted to sit down there at the eternal sup- 
per of the Lamb. And, surely, this is not a 
state to be continued in with peace and quiet 
of soul. 

But, as this difficulty is the most common 
one, and keeps a great many from the sacra- 
mental table, I shall be^more particular and 

mentioned and considered. 67 

distinct in offering what may be sufficient to 
remove it away. 

You say, you fear whether you are prepar- 
ed to eat bread and drink wine with Christ at 
his table ; and your fear restrains you from 
attending this instance of duty. 

Permit me to ask you, what do you mean 
by this preparation, you are afraid you are 
destitute of ? This is an important question 
in the present case, and the true answer 
to it will make way for the removal of 
all the difficulty that is perplexing to you. 

Do you mean, when you say you are not 
prepared for the sacrament, that your state is 
such, as that, if you attend this duty, it must 
be done with some mixture of frailty and im- 
perfection ? If this is what you mean, you 
are to be plainly told, that you will never be 
able to attend the memorial of your Saviour's 
death in a manner perfectly freed from all mix- 
ture of sin. You will, as long as you live, 
continue frail, imperfect creatures ; and God 
has made no provision in the Gospel to pre- 
vent it. If therefore you imagine, you must 
iiot come to the sacrament, until you can at- 
tend there without any mixture of corruption, 
you must never come : And should others 

68 Religious Fears and Scruples 

think as you do, neither would they come ; 
the consequence of which would be, that the 
sacramental supper would have no guests to 
attend it ; nor indeed ought it to have any. 
The real truth is, our Lord appointed the me- 
morial of his death for poor, weak, imperfect, 
and sinful creatures, as the best of men always 
have been, and always will be to the end of 
the world. And if such may not remember 
the dying love of their Lord, in the way of 
his appointment, it must never be done in 
this world, and so never done at all. For 
good men, in the coming world, will be above 
the need, or use, of this, or any other instru- 
mental mean, being perfect in their conformity 
to the image of Christ, as he is to the image 
of the invisible God. 

Do you mean, when you say you are not 
prepared for the sacrament, that you have not 
as yet attained to a confirmed, well establish- 
ed state of goodness ? Surely, this should 
be no bar in your way. It ought rather to 
be a motive powerfully constraining you to 
give your instant and constant attendance on 
this institution of the gospel. For it was 
appointed by Christ, the head of his church, 
as a wisely and suitably-adapted mean, among 

mentioned and considered. 69 

Other things, to confirm the habits of grace, 
and make them well established principles of 
all virtuous and christian good practice ; and 
it is, by the use of this divinely appointed 
mean of grace, as well as by the word, that 
we are to grow, from the state of babes and 
children, to that of complete men in Christ, 
You will therefore not only dishonour Christ, 
but wrong yourselves, if, from such a mista- 
ken notion, you neglect your duty. The 
more weak and imperfect you are in good- 
ness, the more reason you have for the use of 
this mean of grace. How can you use a more 
proper or powerful method to grew up to the 
** fulness of Christ" ? You would, if you 
were constant and conscientious in this near 
approach to God, and intimate communion 
with Christ, be formed more and more to the 
temper of heaven, and a meetness for the em- 
ployments of that blessed world. Sin would 
continually grow weaker and weaker, and 
grace stronger and stronger. In a word, by 
thus commemorating the love of your Saviour, 
you would use a divinely appointed mean to 
strengthen your pious resolutions, invigorate 
your virtuous principles, and animate your 
pious endeavours to grow in a likeness of 

70 Religious Fears and Scruples 

God, and Jesus Christ, and every thing that 
is spiritually good. 

Do you mean, when you say you are not 
prepared for the sacrament, that you are igno- 
rant of its nature, or of the manner in which 
you "should attend at it ; and, not having suf- 
ficient knowledge relative to this institution 
of religion, you fear you should do ill to 
come to it ? 

The answer here is easy and short. If you 
are in earnest in speaking of this as a difficul- 
ty, and it is the real truth that you are thus 
ignorant, there is no need you should long 
continue so, and the fault will be your own, if 
you do. You are favoured with all advan- 
tages, in order to gain a sufficiency of know- 
ledgCj with reference to the sacrament. You 
have the Bible in your hands, which records 
its institution, explains its nature and design, 
and directs as to the manner of attending at 
it. You have, likewise, within your reach, a 
variety of valuable books, purposely written 
by the best of men, for your help in under- 
standing the scripture upon this head. You 
may also repair, w^henever you please, to 
christian friends and ministers, for all needed 
instruction. And if, under the enjoyment of 

mentioned and considered. 71 

such advantages as these, you continue igno° 
rant, the fault will be your own, and it will be 
inexcusably great. It will indeed be evident, 
that this difficulty, with which you excuse 
yourselves from coming to the sacrament,, is 
a mere pretence. It will surely be so es- 
teemed by your Saviour, who will also be 
your Judge in the great day of reckoning. 

Do you mean, when you say you fear 
whether you are prepared for the sacrament, 
that your fear is, whether you are the sub- 
jects of the saving grace of God, and so think 
you had better stay away from this ordinance, 
until you are more free from doubt upon this 
head ? 

To such, as it is my design more largely 
to consider this difficulty by itself in its pro- 
per place : I shall only say at present, It may 
be, your fear, lest you have not been parta- 
kers of the grace of God in truth, is a false . 
one. You may, notwithstanding this fear, 
have ** passed from death to life," and be 
known by Christ to be in the number of those 
who are kis in the special and eminent sense. 
Many, among the true fearers of God, have 
lived, and died, under the prevalence of 
uncomfortable fears, respecting their spiritual 

72 Religious Fears and Scruples 

State. It is therefore no sure argument, that 
you have not been formed to a likeness to 
God in his moral glory, that you have no live- 
ly perceptions of it, but rather conflict with 
doubts and fears, lest this should not be the 
truth of your case. And let me further say 
here, the most likely way you can take for 
the removal of your doubts and fears, is, to 
give your attendance instantly, and to contin- 
ue it statedly, at the sacramental table. What 
matter of wonder is it, you should be in doubt 
aboivt the goodness of your state, while you 
habitually neglect your duty in as plain and 
evident and article, as any in the Bible ? God 
may be displeased with this sin of yours, and 
** hide his face'^ from you. And what is also 
worthy of serious considerations while you 
neglect the sacrament, you neglect a mean of 
grace happily and powerfully suited to give 
you such views of the love of Christ, as may 
excite the exercise of love to him, in a degree 
enabling you to say, ** Lord, thou knowest 
that I love thee." There are, among serious 
good christians, who can tell you, they have 
come away from the sacrament with a refresh- 
ing sense of their interest in the dying love of 

mentioned and considered. 73' 

their Saviour, though they have gone to it in 
darkness and perplexity. 

But let it be supposed, that you are not as 
yet in what the scripture calls a regeneratd^ 
state. Is there nothing, at the sacramental 
table, that is fitted to beget in you the life of 
God, and true holiness ? Have there never 
been instances of those in whom the work of 
grace was began with power, by means of a 
crucified Christ, here exhibited to open view ? 
And why may not you also be thus effectual- 
ly wrought upon, under the influence of divine 
grace ? 

I would not, by what I now say, be under- 
stood to encourage those to come to the ordi- 
nance of the Supper, who are thoughtless and 
unconcerned, insensible of sin, and unresolved 
as to putting themselves under the guidance, 
instruction, and government of Christ. But 
this is far from being the case of those I am 
speaking to. Their fear of coming to the sa- 
crament, lest they should come in an unpre- 
pared manner, sufficiently discovers their tem- 
per of mind ; indicating it to be religious, if 
not gracious. They would not offend God ; 

74 Religious Fears and Scruples 

they had rather omit duty, than do it under 
the apprehension they should hereby displease 
him. They are the subjects of a serious, if 
not a saving sense of God and divine things. 
It is their concern, that they might honour and 
serve him ; and that they do not do it in the 
article under consideration is owing, rather to 
their reverence of the divine majesty, that the 
want of regard to his governing authority. 

And are persons of this character essential- 
ly defective in their preparation for an attend- 
ance at the table of the Lord ? It ought not 
to be supposed. It may rather be thought, 
they will be esteemed by our Saviour wel- 
come guests. They had certainly better wait 
upon Christ at this ordinance, with this pre- 
paration, than totally absent themselves from 

You say, you are afraid to come to the sa- 
crament, lest you should come being unpre- 
pared for this sacred duty. Let me ask you 
hereupon, have you no fear upon your spirit, 
as taking rise from a total neglect of this gos- 
pel-appointment ? Is there no sin, or danger, 
in a continued course of practically throwing 
disregard upon as express an institution of 

mentioned and considered. 75 

Jesus Christ, as any in the sacred books ? 
There certainly is, my friends, both sin and 
danger in neglecting to remember the dying 
love of Christ, in the way of his appointment ; 
and both the sin and danger of this neglect, 
continued in from one period of life to anoth- 
er, are much greater, and ought therefore to 
be much more feared, than a mere defect in 
the degree of preparation. Let it be acknow- 
ledged, it is a fault to come to the sacrament, 
unless we are in some good measure prepared 
in the habitual frame of our minds ; but it is 
a fault likewise, and a much greater one, total- 
ly to abstain from it. And let me add, nor.e 
are more likely to come in a prepared manner, 
than those who fear to come lest they should 
be unprepared. This fear will influence them 
to a becoming care, that they may eat of this 
bread, and drink of this cup, not in a thought- 
less, customary manner, but in a religious 
frame of mind, as those who distinguish be- 
tween the sacramental, and common bread 
and wine, looking upon them as the symbols 
of Christ's body and blood, and partaking of 
them as such, in the exercise of faith, affection, 
zeal, and hearty desires to be spiritually ben- 

76 Religious Fears and Scruples. 

efitted by them. It wcy6 to be wished, ali 
who come to this ordinance would come with 
this preparation of mind. It would^ ' in this 
case, be better attended than it commonly is, 
more to thc^lory of God through Christ, and 
more to the edification of communicants in 
faith, and love, and comfort. 

There are yet other difficulties to be men- 
tioned. But these must be referred to some 
other opportunity. The good Lord bless 
what has been said, that it may be beneficial 

to us. 



ACTS ii. i% 

And theij continued sleadfasLlij — in breaking of bread. 

X HAVE taken occasion^ from these vvords,, 
to apply to several sorts of persons, in refer- 
ence to their celebration of the sacramental- 
supper. The last I spake to, were those, who 
would gladly remember their Saviour and 
Lord in this way of his appointment, but thnt 
they are hindered by various perplexing 
doubts and fears. Some of these I have al- 
ready mentioned, and endeavoured to remove. 
The next difficulty, which I now proceed 
to consider, arises from a fear some have, lest 
they should not eat and drink at the supper of 

78 Religious Ftars and Scrupkii 

their Lord in that spiritual manner, with- 
out which they should only sin, if they should 
be guests at it. They imagine, they must be 
the subjects of spiritual life, or they can- 
not take of the bread, or wine ; or eat of the 
one, or drink of the other, in the exercise of 
that faith and love, without which they should 
rather profane the ordinance, than to attend 
on it to the honour of Christ, or the profit of 
their own souls. They had therefore, they 
conclude, better stay from it, until they are 
made spiritually " alive to God through 

It is obvious to say in reply here, that no 
one can pray to God, read, or hear his word, 
or perform any religious duty in a spiritual 
manner, unless he is the subject of spiritual 
life. Fear, therefore, as taking rise merely 
from an apprehended want of this life, if con- 
sistent and uniform in its o[^ralion, will re- 
strain persons from every instance of piety, 
as well as this of remembering their Saviour at 
the sacrament. They ought indeed, upon 
this principle, no more to pray, or hear God's 
word, or attend on any institution of religion, 
than this of the Supper. For, not being pos- 
sessed of spiritual life, they can no more per- 

mentioned and considered, 79 

form the former of these duties in the spiritu- 
al sense, than tlie latter. And what are we 
now brought to in real consequence ? Reli- 
gion, in all its branches, must be neglected, 
by all who have not '' passed from death to 
liie." And does this comport, in any inea- 
sure, with the requirements of the gospel ? 
Was it the view of God, in instituting the 
means of relifrion, that thev should not be 
used, until one of the main ends, proposed by 
them, is effectually answered without them ? 
Was it his design, that persons should sit 
idle, and do nothing, until, by the power of his 
grace, they are changed into " new men in 
Christ" ? The holy Bible, that infallible rule 
of direction, no where suggests anything to 
this purpose. On the contrary, it puts men 
upon the use of means as the way, and the only 
wa}^ in which they may expect to be made 
*' partakers of the divine nature." The " clean 
heart," and the " right spirit," are, upon the 
gospel plan of mercy, obtainable blessings. 
But how are they to be obtained ? Says the 
answer of God himself, '^ I will be inquired 
of to do this for you." And that is the ad- 
vice of our Saviour Jesus Christ, not to those 
only who had grace already, but to those also 

80 Religious Fears and Scruples 

who had it not, " Ask, and ye shdl receive ; 
seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall 
be opened to you." And Simon Magus, 
though at present destitute of a principle of" 
spiritual life, was yet directed by an inspired 
apostle " to pray God if perhaps he might be 
forgiven." Merely the want of a spiritual 
principle cannot therefore be a good reason, 
why we should not be in the use of any insti- 
tuted mean of religion. If it is, those ought 
not to pray, who are not spiritually alive to 
God. For they can no more spiritually per- 
form this duty, than any other ; and if duty 
may not be performed, unless spiritually pec- 
formed, they may no more pray than " break 
bread" at the Lord's table. But persons, not 
spiritually alive, are not only allowed, but 
expressly directed, even by God himself, to 
pray to him : From whence it unquestiona- 
bly appears, that merely the want of spiri- 
tual life is not a valid reason, why duty, in any 
instance whatever, may not be attended. 

There are, my brethren, other principles, 
besides that of spiritual life, from which per- 
sons may perform duty. They may do it 
from a principle of fear, " being persuaded 
thereto by the terrors of the Lord" ; they 

mentioned and considered. 81 

may do it from a principle of hope, expecting 
in this way to obtain the divine favour ; they 
may do it from a principle of obedience, as 
having their minds impressed with a serious, 
deep sense of the bonds of God that are upon 
them ; yea, they may do it from a principle 
of faith that is real, though it should fall short 
of that which is saving : All which are good 
principles of action, though not the highest 
and best. 

And, in consequence of these principles, 
that are good in themselves, they may perform 
duty also in a manner morally, if not spiritu- 
ally, good ; they may do it heartily, in oppo- 
sition to hypocrisy ; they may do it earnestly, 
in opposition to heedlessness and formality ; 
they may do it with awakened affections, in 
opposition to dulness and coldness ; yea, they 
may do it in the exercise of a real faith in 
God, and in his Son Jesus Christ, though 
their faith should not be that precious faith, 
which is peculiar to the justified through the 
redemption that is in Jesus Christ. 

And as duty in general, and as it respects 
the breaking of bread at the Lord's table in 
particular, may be performed from such prin- 
ciples and in such a manner, sliall any4ive in 

82 Religious Fears and Scruples 

the omission of it, merely because they cannot 
perform it from a principle, and in a manner, 
still higher and more noble ? This, surely, 
is not right. It cannot be justified, either 
upon the footing of reason, or revelation. 

It is readily acknowledged, when men, be- 
sides being destitute of a spiritual principle, 
have so little sense of the nature and obliga- 
tions of religion, as that they can attend its 
duties in a thoughtless, careless, customary 
manner ; or engage in the performance of 
them, only that they may be in the fashion, 
or with a view to wear a cloak for reputation, 
or that they might the more advantageously 
carry on their worldly and carnal designs : 
I say, when, besides the mere want of spiritu- 
al life, persons are in a disposition thus to at- 
tend duty, they had as well not do it at all. 
Perhaps, it would be less dishonorary to God, 
to omit it, than to perform it thus heedlessly 
and hypocritically. But shall the same be 
said of that performance of it before descri- 
bed ? Shall those, who, though they are not 
spiritually alive, yet have upon their minds a 
serious sense of God and religion, and can 
attend its duties with earnestness, affection, 
and faith ; shall such as these discourage 

mentioned and examined. 83 

themselves herefrom, or be discouraged by 
others ? It ought not to be. There is cer- 
tainly a wide difterence between thoughtless, 
senseless, secure sinners, and those who are 
earnestly concerned about the great affairs of 
religion, — who are disposed to seek God with 
their heart, and to wait upon him in all the 
ways of his appointment, that they may be 
savingly enlightened, and quickened by him. 
The prayers of the former may be abomina- 
tion to him, much more a participation of the 
symbols of Christ's body and blood ; while 
he may regard the former, approving of their 
endeavours, in the use of the means he has ap- 
pointed, in order to their being spiritually 
blessed by him. Did our Saviour ever dis- 
courage such from coming to him ? Was 
he not rather moved with compassion towards 
them ? Was he not particularly urgent with 
them '* to seek God that he might be found 
of them" ? And were there none in the apos- 
tles' days, not better qualified, who sat down 
at the sacramental supper ? Those holy men 
of God gladly admitted multitudes of this 
sort to communion with them in " breakins: 
of bread." And could they now speak from 
the excellent glory, I doubt not but they 

84 Religious Fears and Scruphs 

would say, their fears were groundless ; they 
ought to get the better of them, and not suf- 
fer themselves, any longer, to be detained 
from so advantageous a mean of religion as 
that of the sacramental supper. And this 
leads me 

To another difficulty in the way of some ; 
and this is, an apprehension of the Lord's 
Supper as intended, in its appointment, for 
those only, who are partakers of the grace of 
God in the special, or saving, sense. The 
ordinance, say they, is a privilege appropriated 
to persons of this character. No other have 
a right to it ; and should they lay in a claim, 
it would be, in the view of God, nothirtg bet- 
ter than presumption. And as we are in 
doubt whether our faith is that by which " the 
just shall live," we doubt our having aright 
to the sacrament, and so had better stay from 
it, until we are well satisfied that we are be- 
lievers unto life. This is a difficulty that has 
often lain heavy upon the minds of too many ; 
either keeping them from the table of the 
Lord, or making their presence there uncom- 
fortable, if not, at times, greatly distressing. 
To such I would say, 

mentioned aiid considered. 83 

If it is indeed the truth, that the sacrament- 
al supper is designed for those only who are 
endowed with saving grace, none but such 
ought to come to it : Nor ought any other to 
be encouraged to do so. This is a plain case, 
so plain as not to admit of dispute. And as 
their right to come, is, upon this suppo- 
sition, essentially connected with their being 
the subjects of true grace, they must be well 
satisfied they have this grace, or they cannot, 
upon just and soHd grounds, be satisfied that 
they have this right. And was there no 
other reason to question, whether it is a 
truth, that the sacramental supper is appro- 
priated to those only who are believers in the 
saving sense, insomuch that none else may 
warrantably come to it, this I should esteem 
a very good one. For who then would eat 
and drink at the Lord's table, but those who 
had some good degree of assurance, respect- 
ing the safety of their spiritual state ? And 
how few, alas, are these ? It is truly a rare 
thing to meet with christians that have got 
above doubts and fears, relative to the good- 
ness of their character in the gospel estimation. 
The table of the Lord must consequently. 

8.6 Rdigioiis Fears and Scruphs 

upon the impleaded supposition, be surpris- 
ingly thin of guests ; unless those should 
appear at it, who had no right to be there, 
or, what amounts to the same thing, in the 
present case, who did not know that they 
had this right, or that were any other than 
bold intruders ; for this they could no other- 
wise know, than b}' being beyond doubt as 
to the goodness of their state God- ward. 
Surely, it was never the intention of our 
Saviour, in appointing, the sacramental 
supper, to limit an attendance at it to those 
few only, who had got above doubt or fear, 
as to their being christians in the saving sense; 
and yet, this must have been his intention, if 
those only may warrantably give their 
attendance, who are the subjects of true 
grace; because they must know themselves 
to be so, or they cannot know they have any 
divine warrant to eat of this gospel-supper. 
The plain truth is, this restriction of a right 
to the sacrament, will at once exclude 
multitudes from it who are real christians, 
because they are weak and doubting ones. 
None such, if a right to this ordinance is 
connected with the reality of grace, ought to 
come to it. For, so far as thev are in doubt 

iiieniionea and coimcierea. 8^7 

of their being real good christians, they must 
clowbtofthe lawfulness of their being guests 
at it. And if they doubt of their right to be 
at the sacrament, they will incur the charge 
of guilt if they come to it. That saying of 
the aposde Paul, Rom.xiv. 23, is as applicable 
in the case of doubting as to a right to the 
Lord's- Supper, as in the case he particularly 
mentions, " He that doubteth is damned* 

* The word, rendered here damnation, means the 
judgment of a man's conscience, fastening upon him 
the charge of guilt. And this it will do, in the case 
the apostle is upon, if it does its proper office ; 
'-because, (as he goes on to reason) he eateth not of 
faith," that is, he eateth, not being fully persuaded 
in his mind, that he might lawfully eat. And this 
is sin. For as it follows, in the next words, 
" whatsoever is not of faith is sin ;" that is, whatever 
a man doth, not being persuaded, so as to be beyond 
doubt, that he might lawfully do it, he sins in what 
he does. Faith stands here in opposition to doubting^ 
and therefore means such a persuasion of mind as 
leaves no room for hesitation, as to the lawfulness 
of an action. The greek work translated here 
doubteth, is, as Mr. Lock observes, in Rom. iv, 20) 
translated staggered', and is there opposed to strong 
in faith ; or to fully persuaded, as it follows in the 
next verse : And this exhibits the true meaning of 
the apostle, in the text we arc upon. His words, it 

f B Religious Fears and Scruples 

if he cat, because he eateth not of faith ;" 
that is, he stands condemned in his own 

is true, were spoken with reference to eating, or 
not eating, meat that had been offered to idols. If a 
man doubted, whether he migl)t eat of such meat, he 
would be now condemned, in conscience, if he did 
eat; because he did that which he was not fully- 
persuaded in his own mind he might do. But his 
reasoning will hold equally strong in the case before 
us. If it is a man's professed principle, that he 
ought not to be a partaker of the sacramental 
supper, unless he is the subject of that faith which 
is connected with everlasting life, he will stand 
condemned by his conscience, if it judges rightly, 
as chargeable with guilt, if he partakes while 
doubting^ whether he is possessed of this faith. If 
he is not so fully persuaded that he is, as to have 
got beyond doubt, " he sins, because he does not this 
in faith ;" that is, <vith a pertuiasion of mind, ex- 
cluding all doubt, ihiit he acts in this matter, as 
divinely warranted hereto. Whenever a man doubts 
of the lawfulness of an action, it is not possible he 
should do that action, believing that he may lawfully 
do it ; that is, in the exercise of a faith that is 
opposite to, and excludes doubting, which means 
the same thing with a clear, full, and strong persua- 
sion of mind ; and unless he has this faith, or full 
persuasion of soul, he "sins," if we may believe 
the apostle Paul. Upon the principles therefore, 
that saving grace is a qualification, v/ithout which 
none have a right to partake of the Lord's-Supper, 

mentioned and considered. 89 

conscience, because he eats, not being fully 
persuaded it was lawful for him to eat. 

none ought to do so, until they are freed from all 
doubt as to their being thus qualified. Simple ho/ie 
will not, in this case, be sufficient ; no, nor a /irevall- 
ing hojie. A man m.ust be so fully persuaded, as to 
have no doubt hanging about his mind. And should 
he have been a partaker of the ordinance of the 
supper an hundred times, if he found himself to be 
in a doubting state, with respect to the real truth of 
his character as one that was savingly converted, 
it would be his duty to observe this institution na 
more, until his doubt was removed ; otherwise he 
would sin ; for whosoever eats and dritiks at the 
sacramental supper, according to the principle we 
are considering, not having a clearly full and 
satisfactory persuasion in his own mind, that lie is 
born of God, not only sins, but his conscience will 
tell him that he sins, if it is faithful to do its office. . 

In this view of the matter, which is an apostolick 
one, those who have not as yet been at the table of 
the Lord, ought not to appear there ; neither should _ 
those dare to come again who have often been there, 
if in the state David was in, when he prayed, as in 
Psal. 51. "make me to hear joy and gladness — cast 
me not away from thy presence, and take not thine 
holy Spirit from me ; restore unto me the joy of 
thy salvation, and uphold me by thy free spirit ; or 
if in the state of those, Isai. 1. 10. who, though 
"fearers of the Lord, yet walked in darkness, and 
saw no light." In a word, if a right to the sacra- 

90 Rellgluus feara and Scr2ipht< 

Thousands of those who might be worthy 
communicants at the Lord's table, and 
receive great spiritual profit by being there, 
will be excluded from it, if those only may 

mental supper, and that faith by which a man is 
justified, are inseparably connected by the gospel 
constitution, no one, whether he never has been, or 
now is a communicant at it, ought to appear a guest 
there, unless he is sure that be is a believer to life, 
that is, so persuaded of this as to have no doubt 
about it in his mind. If these now are all excluded, 
and exclude themselves they must, or be condemned 
by their own consciences as chargeable wiih guilt if 
they do not : I say, if all these are excluded, how 
amazingly thin will be the appearance of guests at 
the sacramental supper! By far the greater part in 
all our churches must no more come tp this 
ordinance as communicants, until they are so 
satisfied of the goodness of their state, in the 
spiritual sense, as to be in no doubt about it : And^ 
periiaps, there may be some cliurches to whom it 
ought not to be administred, there not being a 
sufficient number in them that can " eat in faith ;" 
that is, with such a persuasion of their being the 
subjects of converting grace, as excludes all doubt 
from their minds. Perhaps, this may be the case 
with respect to some at least of llieir pastors ; who 
then shall administer the ordinance to them ? Surely, 
our Lord could never intend to make an attendance 
at his table a matter of almost constant perplexity to 
his disciples ! 

inentioned and considtred. 91 

rightfully come to it, who can come, not 
doubting of the goodness of their character as 
christians. I cannot suppose our Lord has 
made the way to his table so strait and 
narrow ; neither can I bring myself to think, 
that he ever intended this appointment of his 
religion to be an occasion of embarrassment 
to the minds of his disciples, those of them 
especially that are weak, or fearful, and need 
rather to be encouraged to, than deterred 
from, the practice of their duty. 

The most proper and direct answer there- 
fore to the difficulty under consideration is, a 
denial of the foundation on which it is built, 
namely, that saving grace is a qualification 
without which persons may not come to the 
table of the Lord. If those may wan antably 
come, as allowed by their Lord to come, 
who have not as yet attained to that faith 
which is saving, ciiU ground of perplexity 
from this quarter is at once removed away. 
And that this is tlie real truth, I shall en- 
deavour to make evident to vou. And that 
I may do it in the most easy, and yet most 
satisfying way, I shall turn your view to the 
practice of the inspired apostles, in admitting 

92 Religious Fears and Scruples 

persons to commnnion with them in '* break- 
ing of bread." 

x\nd was this such as will countenance the 
thought, that nothing less than a faith that is 
saving will qualify for the sacrament, or that 
none who are not thus qualified, ought to 
come to it ? Far from this, their practice ob- 
viously and unavoidably leads us to think just 
the reverse ; namely, that the sacramental in- 
stitution was designed for the use and benefit 
of professing believers in general, whether 
their faith is of the special, or common kind. 
It is certain, the several communities of chris- 
tians, in apostolick times, were constituted of 
two sorts of believers ; believers unto life, 
and believers w^hose faith was not an abiding 
principle of good action. And it is as certain 
that they all, unless excluded for open scandal, 
were partakers at the Lord's table, and this 
under apostolick direction ; yea, as having 
some or other of the apostles at their head, 
and leading in the administration. Nay, it is 
evident beyond dispute, that it was the prac- 
tice of the apostles to admit professing believ- 
ers to the supper of the Lord under circum- 
stances, wherein neither they, nor the persons 
themselves, could, upon rational evidence, 

mentioned and considered. 93 

know, whether their faith was any other than 
that common one which would consist with 
their perishing beyond the grave. The three 
thousand persons we read of, in my context, 
as admitted to " break bread," with the apos- 
tles, were admitted to this gospel privilege 
the very day they were convinced that Jesus 
was the Christ, and professed fliith in him as 
such. And it is the truth of fact, that it was 
their practice to receive persons to commu- 
nion with them, in all the privileges of God's 
visible kingdom, upon a bare profession of 
faith in Christ, without waiting for evidence 
from its fruits, that it was the faith by which 
*' the just do live." We no where read, in 
the sacred books, of their delaying to baptize 
any, or to admit theni to fellowship in the 
Lord's Supper, until it was made evident 
either to them, or the persons themselves, 
that they were the subjects of that faith which 
is connected with salvation. Far from this, 
they IMMEDIATELY baptized, and admitted 
to the sacrament, all that professed faith in the 
gospel-revelation, and upon this profession 
only. Surely, they would not have been thus 
hasty in their admissions to a participation in 
gospel ordinances, if they had thought, that 

94 Religious Fears and Scruples 

christian professors might not, with the allow- 
ance of their Saviour, join together in *' eat- 
ing and breaking bread," until they were the 
subjects of that faith which is justifying. 
Had this been their sentiment, it cannot be 
supposed, without dishonouring their charac- 
ter, that they would at once, without any de- 
lay, have owned all that made a profession of 
faith as disciples, admitting them to fellowship 
with themselves in all the privileges of the 
gospel dispensation. It might rather, with 
all propriety, have been expected, that they 
would have taken time to advise, caution, and 
guard their hearers ; waiting for credible evi- 
dence, in the judgment of rational charity, 
that they were believers in the saving sense 
before they allowed them to be partakers at 
the Lord's- Supper. Had they looked upon 
it as a truth, that this ordinance was intended 
by our Lord, in his appointment of it, for the 
use of those only who were believers unto 
life, it is unaccountably strange, that they 
should have encouraged, yea, directed such 
numbers to the use of it, upon a bare profes- 
sion only, before there had been opportunity 
for the trial of their faith, or the exhibition of 
reasonable proof that it was of the saving kind. 

mentioned and considered. 95 

They knew that our Lord had said to believ- 
ers in him, " then are ye my disciples, if ye 
continue in my word." And again, *' not 
every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, 
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he 
that doth the will of my father which is in 
heaven." They knew also, from what they had 
seen themselves, that, among those who had 
professed faith in Christ, there were some, yea, 
a great many, whose faith did not " work by 
that love," either to God or man, which the 
gospel makes necessary to denominate it a 
faith that is saving. They could not there- 
fore admit persons to christian fellowship in 
gospel ordinances, merely upon a ver- 
bal profession of faith, looking upon this 
profession as credible evidence, that they 
were truly sanctified. For it was not, in the 
judgment of the largest rational charity, good 
evidence in the case. Instead of being con- 
vinced, upon just and solid grounds, that it 
was a justifying fiiith, there was reason rather 
to fear, at least, in regard of many, that it was 
no other faith than would leave them short of 
heavenly salvation. It ought not therefore to 
be supposed, when the apostles so suddenly 
admitted persons to baptism, and the Lord's- 

96 Religious Fears and Scruples 

Supper, upon a bare profession of faith in 
Christ, that they imagined, that this profes- 
sion gave credible proof that they were believ- 
ers in the saving sense, or that they esteemed 
them as such. It is far more reasonable to 
think, on the contrary, that they understood, 
by the faith here professed, no more than such 
a conviction that " Jesus was the Christ," as 
to be therefrom disposed and influenced to a 
readiness to own him as their Saviour and 
Lord ; and, in consequence hereof, to put 
themselves under his care, guidance, and tui- 
tion ; and to be found in the use of his ap- 
pointments, as the best method they could 
take to be further enlightened, improved, and 
trained up in the way they should go, in order 
to their finding eternal life. If gospel insti- 
tutions are considered as a means wisely and 
powerfully fitted to cultivate and improve 
such a faith as this, and as designed by God 
for the use of those who have it, in order to 
their becoming christians, formed to a 
" meetness, for the inheritance of the sanctifi- 
ed by faith in Jesus Christ," the conduct of 
the apostles was exactly such as it was proper 
and reasonable it should be. It is beyond all 
doubt with me, that this was their sentiment 

mentioned and considered. 97 

concerning these institutions ; and that this 
also was their view in admitting these pro- 
fessors to an attendance on them. Nor, un- 
less they acted under the influence of this 
thought, and with this view, is it possible, as 
I imagine, to justify either the wisdom of 
their conduct, or its faithfulness to God, or 
the souls of men : Nor can they be justified, 
upon any other scheme of thought, who en- 
courage persons in the use of gospel institu- 
tions, who are not clearly satisfied, upon 
proper trial of their faith by its fruits, that it is 
of the saving kind. 

The plain truth is, no good reason can be 
given, why the institutions of the visible 
kingdom of God should not be intended for 
the use and benefit of all professing christians, 
seriously concerned about their souls, and ev- 
erlasting salvation ; though their faith, at 
present, should be no other than that which 
is the efiect of the ordinary illuminations and 
assistance of the divine Spirit. They are as 
suitably adapted to beget, as to increase, a 
faith that is saving. And it is, perhaps, in 
the serious, diligent, persevering use of these 
instituted means of grace, that persons, gQn- 

98 Religious Fears and Scruples. 

erally speaking, are made holy, really and 
truly so, as well as improved in this gracious 
quality of their miinds. Men, it is true, must 
have faith in the gospel-revelation, before 
they can attend its institutions, unless they 
should do it from a principle of hypocrisy. 
Accordingly the apostles admitted none to 
christian communion, until they professed 
faith in Christ.^ But, upon doing this, they 

* It may be worthy of remark here, as those, lo 
whom the gopel was preached in the apostles' days, 
were either Jcvjs or Gentilefi, they could have ad- 
mission into the visible kingdom of Christ, only by 
baptism, with a previous profession of faith in him as 
the Son of God, and Saviour of the world. But then 
it ought to be considered, this profession they might 
make from a real and strong persuasion of mind that 
he was" the Son of God," and his religion that alone 
by which they could be saved ; while, at the same 
time, their faith, which was the ground of their ad- 
mission into Christ's visible kingdom, might fall 
short of that which would interest them in eternal 
life. Our Saviour himself has put this beyond dis- 
pute, not only by declaring more than once, in express 
words, " that " many who believed on him" were 
not believers unto life ; but by a variety of parables, 
which he spake on purpose to convey this sentiment, 
that persons might be visible members of his king- 
dom, though their faiih was not of the saving kind ; 

merdioned and considtrtd. {)Q — 

received them into the kingdom of grace ; 
not waiting for evidence that they were al- 
as you may read at large, in the 1 3th chapter of 
Matthew's gospel. Nay, so far was he from suppo- 
sing, that all that professed faith in him, and had 
thereupon been admitted, as disciples, into his visible 
kingdom, were the subjects of that «' faith by which 
the just do live," that he not only compares many 
of them to tares growing up with the nvheai ; but 
solemnly prohibits their being ^' rooted up," and 
publishes it as his pleasure, that both be suffered to 
<< grow together, until the time of the harvest." 
One reason of this, without all doubt, was, that they 
might, by the cultivation of gospel means, and ad- 
vantages, be changed into good nvheat. In the nat- 
ural world this is impossible ; but not so, in the 
spiritual kingdom of Christ. Tares may be, and of- 
ten have been, converted into luheat : And one thing 
designed by our Saviour in suffering tares to have 
a being in his church unquestionably was, tha 
this conversion, under gospel culture, might be 
effected. In this respect there is an essential differ- 
ence between God's kingdom that is above, and his 
kingdom here on earth. None but such as have 
been partakers of the grace of God in truth shall 
have admission g-ranted to them into the heavenly 
kingdom. And provision has accordingly been made 
to bring this into event. For one, that infallibly 
knows " what is in man,*' is the appointed judge, 
with whom it belongs to determine, who the persons 

100 Religious Fears and Scruples 

ready fit for the kingdom of glory, but put- 
ting them at once under the enjoyment of all 

are that shall have eiurancc into heaven. And none 
but such as he knows, beyond the possibility of mis- 
take, have been " sanctities! through faith in him,'' 
shall see his face there. And had it been, in like man- 
ner, the intention of God, that none but the " renew- 
ed in the spirit of their minds," should be admitted 
into his visible church on earth, and partake of its 
visible privileges, he would, without aH doubt, have 
taken sufficient care, so to have guarded the affair 
of admission as to have excluded all others. But 
this he has not done. There is no divinely consti- 
tuted judge, or judges, on earth, either among the 
clergy or laity, considered singly, or as united in a 
body, who are qualified to make a cei'tain judgment, 
respecting the real character of any of those who 
may desire to be admitted to fellowship m gospel 
ordinances ; neither are the persons, who offer 
themselves, always able to rn:'.ke a just judgment of 
their own character, and never an absolutely certain 
one. Christ is the one only judge of the internal 
state of men ; nor will this be certainly known, until 
the day of the revelation of liis righteous judgment. 
It is, therefore, highly reasonable to think, that there 
is a difference between the terms of admission into 
the church on earth, and the church in heaven. If 
they were the same, it would be absurd to suppose, 
that no effectual provision should be made to keep 
those out of the church here, who are disqualified for 
an admission into the church of Qod that is above. 

mentioned and considered, 101 

gospel means, privileges, motives, and advan- 
tages, that they might, by a wise and good 

The plain truth is, it is no where suggested, in any 
part of the old or new-testament, that all those who 
are members of the visible church here, and admitted 
to partake of its visible privileges, are really and cer- 
tainly saints ; or that, as such, they will hereafter be 
joined to " the general assembly, and church of the 
first-born, which are written in heaven." The in- 
tention of God, therefore, in erecting a visible king- 
dom, here on earth, with a variety of visible means, 
helps, privileges, and advantages, was not merely to 
enlarge and brighten the qualifications of those, who 
are already es,^entially qualified for heaven ; but to 
form those also to a meetness for it, who may as yet 
be destitute of this meetness : And the institutions of 
this kingdom are all of them so contrived, as to be, 
at once, equally and powerfully adapted, both to be- 
gin, and carry on, the work of sanctification in the 
souls of all that are members of it. 

1 may properly subjoin here, the divinely appoint- 
ed way, in which persons become members of the 
visible church of Christ, is utterly inconsistent with 
the supposition, that, in order to their being so, they 
must be the subjects of saving faith, or judged to be 
so. A profession of faith in Christ, in apostolick times, 
was that^ without which, neither Jews nor Gentiles^ 
of whom the world then consisted, could, by baptism, 
be admitted members of his visible kingdom. But 
how was it possible, that even the apostles, much 

102 Religious Fears and Scruples 

use of them, be made " men of God,'' formed 
to a " meetness for the inheritance of the 

less their successors in after ages, who could judge 
by the outward appearance only, not having it in their 
power to inspect the hearts of others, should be able 
to determine, whether the faith they professed was 
of the saving kind ? And it is certain, it was not 
always of this kind, neither in the first times of the 
gospel, nor in any age since. Shall we say then, 
that those were not members in the visible kingdom 
of Christ, whose faith was short of that which is 
saving ? This must be said, if saving faith is a neces- 
sary qualification in order to visible m.embcrship in 
the church of Christ. And will it not herefrom una- 
voidably follow, that it is impossible to know, who 
arc, and who are not, members of Christ's visible 
kingdom ? Yea, whether he has any such kingdom 
in the world ? 

Besides, it ought to be remembered, that the chil- 
dren of those, who are members of Christ's visible 
church, are, by the constitution of God, from their 
first coming into existence, members of this king- 
dom in common with their parents. So it was under 
the Jewish dispensation. And so it is now under the 
christian ; if there is any validity in one of the prin- 
cipal arguments, by which we vindicate our prac- 
tice, in baptising the infants of those, who are mem- 
bers of Christ's church. We baptise them, because 
they are born disciples, members, in common with 
their parents, of the same visible kingdom, under 

mentioned and examined. 103 

saints in light." And it was, doubtless, the 
design of God, in erecting the gospel dispen- 

the administration of Jesus Christ. Baptism is the 
badge, sign, or token of this privilege, by which they 
are distinguished from the children of these parents, 
who are without the pale of the church. With 
respect to these, who are by fiir the greater part of 
the visible kingdom of God, none will say, they were 
when they first commenced members of this king- 
dom, the subjects of saving faith. A membership 
in the church of Christ was their birth-right, an 
absolute grant of the favour of God toward them. 
And members of this church they will be, whether 
their parents bring them to baptism, neglect to do so, 
or are hindered by the invented requirements of man. 
For baptism, with respect to infants, is the mark of 
Christ, publickly owning them as members of his king- 
dom, not a rite by which they are admitted into it. 
It will, perhaps, be said here, should it be allow- 
ed, and the infant seed of believers are, in common 
with their parents, members of the kingdom of 
Christ, yet it must, at the same time, be affirmed, 
that this gives them no right, when they come to 
years, to special gospel ordinances. In order to 
this, they must profess saving faith. in Christ, and ex- 
plicitly covenant to be his : It is this, and this only, 
that instates them in this right. The reply is, if the 
gospel was to be preached to our native Indians, or 
to other pagan people, or to the Jews in any place 
Avhither they have been scattered, they would have 
no right, any more than those the apostles preached 

104 Religious Fears and Scruples 

sation, with so many powerful, well adapted 
means and advantages, to train up all that are 

to, in their day, to special gospel ordinances, until, 
by a previous profession of faith in Christ, they had 
been admitted, by baptism, into that visible church of 
which he is head. But this cannot, with truth, be 
applied to those, who are already members of this 
church ; as is the case, with respect to such adults 
as had, in their infancy, the mark of disciples put 
upon them by the water of baptism. How far it 
may be expedient, as tending to edification, for these 
previously to their coming to special ordinances to 
profess faith in Christ, and openly covenant to be 
his, I dispute not at present. But thus much I will 
venture to say, that their right to special ordinances 
is not at all founded on any such profession or cove- 
nant, but on their membership in the church of 
Christ. Being members of this church, as truly so 
as those who communicate at the table of the Lord, 
they have a divinely established right, when they 
come to years, to all t%j&^ visible means, privileges, 
and advantages of the gospel visible kingdom : Nor 
has any church on earth a power delegated to them, 
from him who is head over all, to hinder them from 
the exercise of this right, unless their behaviour is 
such as that, in a way of christian discipline, a stop 
is put to it conformably to the direction of the gospel. 
The plain truth is, they are either members of the 
visible kingdom of Christ, or they are not. There is 
no medium here. If they are members at all, they 
are as much so as they can be. It is not in the pow- 

mentioned and considered. 106 

under it, as in a school, '* from faith to faith," 
from a common faith to a special one, and 

cr of man ta make them more so than they are aU 
ready. The owning the covenant, as it is called, that 
they may have baptism for their children, according 
to the manner of these churches ; or their owning 
the same covenant, or a like one, that they may be 
admitted, as we commonly speak, to full communion, 
makes no alteration as to their membership in the 
kingdom of the Son of God. They were before as 
truly, and as much members in this kingdom, as 
they are now. There are no half members miho. 
visible kingdom of Christ. Whoever are members 
at all, are whole members ; and, as such, have a 
right, at mature years, to a seat at the table of th^ 
Lord, unless, by their unchristian conduct, they have 
forfeited it. TliC churches of Christ, I fear, are gen- 
erally and greatly wanting in their duty to those, who 
are visible members of the same body with them- 
selves, while they take little or no care, that they 
pay due honour to the special institutions of Chris- 
tianity. Instead of laying obstacles in their way, 
preventive of this, they should remove them so far as 
it is in their power ; giving them all the encourage- 
ment, and assistance they may need. If they see 
their way clear to bring their children to baptism, 
and are seriously desirous of it, they should be per- 
mitted to do it ; though religious fears and scruples 
should restrain them from coming to the table of the 
Lord ; in which case, they should be instructed in 
meekness, with all long-suffering and forbearance. 

106 Religions Fears and Scruples 

from a special one in a lower degree, to an 
higher, until the subjects of it are complete 
in Christ. 

But, if their neglect of this ordinance should appear 
to arise from habitual carelessness and inattention, ' 
discovering their contempt of it, they should be re- 
proved and admonished ; and, if finally obstinate in 
their contempt, they should, in the gospel way, be 
cut off from their relation to Christ. But I may not 
carry this note to a greater length : Nor should I 
have so enlarged it, had it not been my view to sig- 
nify my sentiments, with respect to some of the dis- 
putes of the present day ; which appear to me 
founded on gross ignorance of the real nature of 
Christ's visible kingdom. 

Since the penning the above note, and putting it 
into the printer's hands, I observed, upon occasion- 
ally looking over the records of the First Church in 
Boston, of which I am pastor, the following ques- 
tions, with an affirmative answer to them. 

" Whether the relation of immediate children of 
church members be such, as giveth the church a 
church-power over them? And^ consequently, wheth- 
er it is the duty of the church to exercise that power 
regularly upon them, that their knowledge ai^d life 
may be answerable to the engagements of their re- 
lation ? And whether it be the church's mind, that 
solemn notice be given to them seasonably ? Voted 
by the church in the affirmative, on the 29th of the 
11th month, 1656. In agreement with this declared 

meiiiioned and considered. 107 

Enough has now been said to make it 
evident, that saving grace is not a qualifica- 
tion, vi^ithout which persons may pot come to 
the supper of the Lord. 

Two things are commonly objected against 
Avhat has been said, which it may be proper 
and needful to take some notice of here. 

The first is the case of the Ethiopian eu- 
nuch, who, upon desiring to be baptized, re- 
ceived that answer from Philip, who had been 
expounding the scripture to him, " if thou 

sense of the church, several acts of discipline are 
recorded ; among them, the following : 

" Son of our brother of the age of 16 

years, born and baptised into the fellowship of the 
covenant, for his choosing evil company, and fre- 
quenting a house of ill report, and that unseasonable 
times, with bad persons, was called before the church, 
and admonished, the 3d of the 1st month, 1653." 

I have here inserted the sense of this church, re- 
specting their duty towards baptised persons, and 
their practice thereupon, in a way of discipline ; 
because, as I imagine, they are truly scriptural, and 
if copied after, with due cave and wisdom, would 
serve the church of God vastly more, than all that has 
ever been controversially wrote, about the right of 
persons that have been baptised to bring their chil- 
dren to baptism, or to " break bread" themselves at 
the table of the Lord. 

108 Religions Fears and Scruples 

belie vest with all thine heart, thou mayest*" 
The plea here is, saving faith was in regard of 
this person, made necessary in order to his 
being admitted to the ordinance of baptism. 
And if he might not be baptised without this 
faith, to be sure he might not be a partaker at 
the Lord's table. 

The answer is easy. It is said, without 
sufficient reason, that " believing with all the 
heart" means the same thing with saving 
faith. Many, in the days of Christ, and his 
apostles, heartily believed ; yea, their whole 
heart was in their faith, insomuch that they 
received the word with joy, yea, a strong mo- 
tion in all the passions and affections of their 
heart ; while yet, their faith was not an abid- 
ing principle, as appeared afterwards, by their 
falHng away in a time of temptation, or by 
their being led aside by the cares of the 
world. And this might have been the case 
of this eunuch, for ought any thing that is 
known to the contra.y : Besides, the eunuch, 
in answer to Philip, did not say that he 
" believed with all his heart." His words 
import nothing more than single naked be- 
lief. Said he, " I believe that Jesus is the 
Son of God ;" upon which he was straitway 

mentioned and considered. 109 

baptised. But if his answer had been, *^ I 
believe with all my heart, that Jesus is the 
Son of God," it would not have been evident, 
that he was the subject of a faith that would 
have argued his being born of God : To be 
svire-, he could not know that he was, upon 
just and solid grounds, unless by inspiration 
from above ; and without this, he would 
have been too hasty, and indeed rash, if his 
declaration concerning his faith was intended 
to convey this thought. 

It may possibly be thought by some, that 
^' believing with all the heart'* is too strong a 
rn^Dde of speech to mean any thing short of a 
'faith that is connected with life. But it is a 
certain truth, that persons may believe in 
Jesus as the Son of God, and Saviour of the 
world ; really in opposition to deceit and hy- 
pocrisy ; heartily, in opposition to the \vant of 
affection ; and *' with all their heart," as 
signifying the passionate emotion of their whole 
soul ; while yet their taith may have no 
depth of root, and may leave them short of 
that renovation of mind without which they 
cannot be saved. It may be worth remem- 
bering here, it is said 2 Chion. xv. 12, that 


1 10 Religious Fears and Scruples 

" all Judah entered into a covenant to seek 
the Lord God of their fathers with all their 
heart, and with all their soul." It follows in 
the 15th V. *' and all Judah rejoiced at the 
oath ; for they had sworn with all their heart ; 
and God was found of them." Suriely, no 
one will say, that, by *' all the heart," in this 
passage, we are to understand a heart that had 
been renewed by the grace of God. The 
most the phrase can be supposed to import 
is, that they entered into this covenant in real 
earnest, as having in motion the several pas- 
sions and affections of their heart. So this 
eunuch believed, before he was baptised ; 
and yet, neither he, nor they, might be the 
subjects of that sanctifying grace, without 
which they could not enter into that life which 
is eternal in heaven. 

The other objection is taken from those 
words of the apostle Paul, which he spake 
with immediate reference to a participation at 
the Lord's-Supper, 1 Cor. xi. 28. " Let a 
man examine himself, and so let him eat of 
that bread, and drink of that cup." Now, a 
man's having, or not having, that faith which 
interests him in the purchases of the redeem- 
er's cross, being an affair of the greatest im- 

mentioned and considered. 1 1 1 

portance, it is supposed, that this is the faith 
about which we are directed to examine our- 
selves, and so go, or forbear to go, to the 
Lord's-Supper, as we find ourselves to be, or 
not to be, the subjects of it. 

In answer whereto I would say : It is rea- 
dily acknowledged to be a matter of great 
importance to examine into our faith, that we 
may know, whether it is a faith that is con- 
nected with salvation ; and it may be fit and 
proper, as it would answer some very good 
ends, thus to examine ourselves, when we 
are about to go to the table of the Lord ; 
though this is not the examination the apostle 
has here in view. The examination, he di- 
rects to, does not so much relate to the chris- 
tian's character as savingly converted, as to 
his knowledge and faith with reference to the 
sacramental supper. The case was this : 
The Corinthians, to whom he was now wri- 
ting, had been very irregular and disorderly 
in their celebration of the Lord's Supper, for 
which the apostle, in this 11th chapter of his 
epistle to them, sharply reproves them ; and, 
in order to rectify their disorders, he particu- 
larly relates to them the institution of the sup- 
per, as he had received the account of it im- 

112 Religious Fears and Scruples 

mediately from Christ himself, that, knowing 
its nature and design, they might observe it in 
a more worthy manner. In order whereto, 
his direction follows, *' let a man examine 
himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and 
drink ot that cup." As if he had said, I have 
laid before you, in plain easy words, the na- 
ture and design of the sacramental supper as 
instituted by Jesus Christ. Examine your- 
selves by this rule, and do it seriously, care- 
fully, and faithfully. This I advise you to, as 
a proper and suitable expedient to prevent 
your coming to this ordinance in the irrev- 
erent, indecent manner you have formerly 
done. In this way, you may come in a more 
worthy and becoming manner, to the honour 
of Christ, and your own spiritual profit. 
What the apostle aims at is, to put them up- 
on duly distinguishing between this supper 
of the Lord, and their own, which they ate 
previous to it ; looking upon it, not as a com- 
mon meal, and partaking of it as such, but as 
an instituted memorial of Christ's dying love. 
This they might do, though their faith as yet 
was no other than that, which is the effect of 
the ordinary influence of the divine Spirit. 
Doubtless, a very considerable number of 

mentioned and considered. 113 

these Corinthians had no higher a faith than 
this ; and if the apostle intended, that they 
should so examine themselves as not to come 
to the sacrament any more, unless they could 
find that they had saving faith, a very great 
part of this church must have abstained from 
the use of this ordinance. But this the apos- 
tle had not in view. His only design was, to 
direct to such an examination, more espec- 
ially in relation to the sacramental supper, as 
might happily influence them to come to it in 
a more becoming manner, and as might rea- 
sonably be expected of those, who eat and 
drink of those symbols, which figuratively 
represent the dying love of Christ towards 

But the design of the apostle in this chap- 
ter will be more largely illustrated, when I 
come to consider the next difficulty that hin- 
ders many serious christians from an approach 
to the Lord's table. This is an important 
difficulty, and the occasion of perplexing fear 
to a great many. The consideration of it 
must, therefore, be left to some other oppor- 

I shall only say further at present, It is not 
an easy matter for christians, especially chris- 


114 Religious Fears and Scruples 

tians that are weak in faith, or that are but be 
ginners in religion, to determine concerning 
their faith, that it is, not of the common, but 
saving kind. It would therefore be inconve- 
nient and unfit to put them upon making this 
determination, previous to their going to the 
sacrament, and as a qualification in order to it, 
and without which they might not attend at 
it. It would unavoidably throw the minds 
of many that are real christians, as well as 
other serious, well-disposed persons into per- 
plexity and fear, and keep them from coming 
to this ordinance, though they might other- 
wise come to it with profit to themselves, and 
so as to honour their master Jesus Christ. I 
cannot suppose, the apostle would have given 
this occasion of distressing concern, as he 
must have done, in thousands of instances, if 
the examination he directs to, in this text, 
refers to a determination of our faith as sa- 
ving, in order to our going to the sacrament. 
The good Lord bless what has been now 
said to the removal of those fears, which keep 
any from the table of the Lord ; and may 
there, for the time to come, be seen a greater 
number of welcome guests at it ! 



ACTS ii. 42. 
And they continued steadfastly — in breaking of bread. 

X HAVE taken occasion^ from this text, to 
speak to those whose minds are perplexed 
with difficulties, which keep them from atten- 
ding the sacramental '' breaking of bread." 
Several of these difficulties have been already 
mentioned, and that said which was thought 
sufficient for the removal of them. 

I now proceed to another difficulty, and that 
which, perhaps, has been the greatest obsta- 
cle in the way of many serious, well-disposed 
christians to the Lord's table, and this is, a 
fear of " eating and drinking unworthily," and 
hereupon becoming *' guilty of the body and 
blood of the Lord," and " sealing damnation to 
themselves." This fear has unhappily taken 
rise of a mistaken apprehension of those words 
of the apostle Paul, 1 Cor. xi. 27, " whosoever 
shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the 

116 Religious Fears and Scruples 

Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body 
and blood of the Lord." And again, ver. 29, 
*' He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, 
eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not 
discerning the Lord's body." 

The readiest, and most effectual way, as I 
imagine, to obviate this difficulty, and give 
ease to the minds of those who may be per- 
plexed with it, will be to be particular and 
distinct in ascertaining the precise meaning 
of the apostle, in the phrases he uses in these 
texts, "eating and drinking unworthily ;" 
being *' guilty of the body and blood of the 
Lord ;" and " eating and drinking danma- 
tion to himself ;" and then in applying what 
may be offered to the case of those, who may 
be under perplexing fear, from these passages 
of sacred writ, in a few remarks, or observa- 
tions, suited to give them relief and help. 

I shall, in the first place, endeavour, with all 
plainness, to open the meaning of the apostle 
in the above recited words, that have been 
the occasion of difficulty to serious christians. 

Only, before I come to this, I would make 
a previous note, and desire at may be particu- 
larly attended to, and all along remembered, 
in the following discourse. It is this : — The 

mentioned and considered. 117 

passages, we are going to explain, are not in- 
dependent sentences, the proper meaning of 
which is to be gathered from the mere 
force of the words, in themselves simply con- 
sidered, but parts of a well-cohering dis- 
course ; and can therefore be explained in no 
way, but by considering the design in view, 
the part they bear in the discourse, and how 
they stand connected with it. The not duly 
considering these things is, I believe, the rea- 
son their true maaning has so often been un- 
happily misunder*itood. " Eating and drink- 
ing unworthily" at the Lord's table, consid- 
ered in general, will never lead one into the true 
meaning of it in this place ; because the apos- 
tle is speaking of a special case, and the par- 
ticular unworthiness of a particular number 
of christians, which can be known in no way, 
but by consulting the context. The nature 
and meaning of this " unworthiness" and the 
" special punishment" incurred by it, must 
be measured by that, and by that alone ; un- 
less it may be thought allowable to break in 
upon the apostle's course of reasoning, and 
put a sense on his words that has no pertinen- 
cy to the design he is upon ; which is cer- 
tainly an unfair treatment of an human wri^ 

118 Religious Fears afid Scruples 

ting, and ought much less to be practised in 
regard of one that is sacred, as being of di- 
vine inspiration. 

Having made this remark, the way is clear 
to look into the context, as the only proper 
method to understand the apostle, in the 
phrases we are about to explain. And by 
doing this we shall find, that great disorders, 
particularly with reference to the sacramental 
supper, had crept into the Corinthian church. 
It was on account of these disorders, that the 
apostle wrote this chapter ; and if we would 
know, what that *' unworthy eating and 
drinking" is, which he blames these Corinth- 
ians for, and would rectify for time to come, 
we must know what the indecencies, and dis- 
orders were, that j^revailed among them. For 
this " un worthiness" must be explained by 
these disorders. 

The apostle before he comes to particular 
instances of their misconduct, declares in gen- 
eral, as in the 17th verse, " I praise you 
not, that you come together not for the bet- 
ter, but for the worse." More is intended in 
these words than is expressed. Their mean- 
ing is, Far from commending you, I think you 
are greatly to be blamed. What I rebuke 

mentioned and considered. 119 

you for, and with severity too, is, that, when 
you assemble together for the performance of 
the pubUck offices of rcHgion, you behave so 
as that your coming together, instead of being 
for your spiritual advantage, tends rather to 
the increase of your guilt. 

Having spoken thus generally, he now 
comes to particulars ; mentioning the special 
instances, wherein they were blameworthy. 
And they are these that follow. 

The first is, their having divisions among 
them. Says he, (ver. 18.) " when ye come 
together in the church, I hear there are divis- 
ions among you ; and I partly believe it." 
It should seem it was by report from others, 
and not personal knowledge, that he became 
acquainted with this disorder in the church at 
Corinth. But such was his intelligence, that 
he believed it ** in part," or rather fully " of 
part" of the church. And a scandalous dis- 
order this was. The word, (in the original 
Schismata) here translated aivisions ; means, 
not merely divisions in their affections towards 
each other, but divisions in ih^ir outward con- 
duct. It is true, they met together in the 
same place for communion at the Lord's-Sup- 
per,but it was in a schismatical manner, divid- 

120 Religioits Fears and Scruples 

ing themselves into parties, and not appearing 
as they ought to have done, as one body, af- 
fectionately united in commemorating the dy- 
ing love of their common Lord. It cannot 
be deduced from any thing that is said in this 
chapter, or in any part of the epistle, that they 
had as yet separated from each other under 
the form of different sects, meeting in differ- 
erent places of worship : but the apostle tells 
them, that so it might be expected it would 
be. The prejudices, the lusts, and unsubdu- 
ed tempers of men would lead to this, and 
God in his righteous providence might permit 
it, that it might be made to appear who, up- 
on trial, would be approved as stedfast and 
immoveable. So his words ran, ver. 19, 
For there must be also heresies [in the origi- 
nal, Aireseis, sects, ^'] among you, that they 
which are approved may be made manifest 
among you." But though this Corinthian 

* The Enj^lish \vord, heresy, is, by ecclesiastical writers, most 
commonly, if not always, restrained in its meaning to doctrinal te- 
nets, supposed to be dangerously corrupt ; but tiiis is not the sense 
of the Greek word ozreAJS, from whence it is derived, as used in 
the new-testament books. It ratlter means w i:at v. e call a sect, or 
people in a state of separation from others, and meeting together 
as a different denomination. I have looked over all the places in 
the new-testament, where the word is used, and find that this is 
the sense in which it is to be understood, in every text one only 
excepted, which may admit of dispute. 

mentioned and considered. 121 

church was not at present divided into two, 
or more separate societies, but continued one 
christian community, meeting together in the 
same place, yet they behaved in their assem- 
blies^ in an unbrotherly, factious, and schis- 
matical manner. The apostle, accordingly, 
applies to them, as in the 20th ver. " when 
ye come together therefore into one place,* 
this is not to eat the Lord's-Supper." As if 
he had said, though you assemble, as a chris- 
tian society, in one and the same place, and 
there eat ; yet you do it after such a manner, 
that it would be a dishonour to a sacred insti- 
tution of Christ, to speak of it as eating the 
Lord's- Supper. This leads to 

A number of other faults, these Corinthi- 
ans are obviously charged with, and severely 
reproved for ; as we may see, in the 21. and 
22d. ver. in which they are thus addressed, 
" in eating every one taketh before other 
his own supper, ;\nd one is hungry, and 
another is drunken. What ! have ye not 
houses to eat and to drink in ? or despise ye the 

* The phrase, in the original, epi to auto, being of the neutral 
kind, may as well signify vcith the same design, for the same thing, 
?ifi to one place : and it is accordingly often so to be understood. 
But the translation here, tp one place, best suits the connection, as 
T isaagine. 

122 Religious Fears and Scruples 

church of God^and shame them that have not? 
shall I praise you in this ? I praise you not !" 
Their having a " supper of their own" in 
the house of God, when about to celebrate 
the supper of the Lord, is here evidently 
spoken of as indecent and irregular. When 
the apostle says, *' every one eateth before 
other his own supper," it is easy to perceive, 
that he alludes to a custom which had obtain- 
ed among them, whatever gave rise to it, 
namely, that of having a common feast in the 
place of worship, here called *' their own sup- 
per," * either previous to, or mixed with, the 

* There is no room to question, whether christians, in the apos- 
tolick age, and afterwards, had their feanfs, their agapo', that is, 
their love or charity feasts. Jude speaks of these feasts; so does 
Ignatius, which may give some a favourable opinion of them ; so 
do Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and others. It does not 
appear, from any thing that is said in any passage in the new- 
testament books, that these feasts were a divinely instituted pref- 
ace, or appendix, to the Lord's-Supper. They were, without all 
doubt, the invention of man. Probably, they might take rise, 
with respect to both Jewis/i and Gentile conveits to the christian 
faith, from the same general cause. 

We all know it was ajier our Lord had eat the passover- feast 
with his disciples, that he eat with them his own supper; and he 
did it with what remained of the passover bread and wine, first 
M)lemnly separating them to the special use of remembering him. 
The Judaising christians, under the guidance (it is likely) of 
Judaizing teachers, introduced of their own heads, tinged with 
Jewish superstition, a supper previous to the Lord's ; as the Lord'? 
Supper, when first instituted, was preceded with the passover- 
supper. And this previous supper of their's might, as to the prin- 
ciples of its introduction, savour so much of that whicli was Jevcish 

vtentioned and exaiained. 123 

" Lord's- Supper." This he plainly con- 
demns, and would represent as a disorder 
unhappily introduced among them. What 
else can be the meaning of those severely re- 
prehensive interrogatives, " what, have ye not 
houses to eat and to drink in ? or despise ye the 
church of God ?" as if he had said, Is it not 
to your disgrace, and can you do any other 
than think so, that you make the house of 
God a place for common feasting, when you 
have houses of your own, you may use to this 
purpose, as proper occasions may be offered 
therefor ? Your consciences, duly enlighten- 
ed, will reproach you for such misuitable con- 
duct. I cannot but suppose, that these sup- 
pers, in the place of worship, and conjoined, 
as it were, with the Lord's, let them be called 
love feasts^ or by whatever other name, are 

in religion, as to give occasion of offence to the Gentile christians. 
On the other hand, the Gentile christians, as the Lord's-Supper was 
consequent upon a feast, some of the materials of which were set 
apart and consecrated in remembrance of Christ, might think it 
proper to preface the supper of the Lord with one of their own, 
makinguse of the bread, and wine of their own supper in their ob- 
servance of our Lord's. And there may be the more reason to give 
this rise to this previous supper among the Greeks, as it is known to 
have been their custom to have social feasts or suppers. I would 
add here, this |?rewoMS SM;?per, thus differenced as to the circum- 
stances attending its rise, with respect to the Jewish and Gentile 
christians, might be one occasion of the (Scldsmata) divisions there 
were among them, and complained of by the apostles in the 18th 

124 Religious Fears and Scruples 

here solemnly prohibited by the apostle ; es- 
peci illy, when he adds, " shall I praise you 
in this ? I praise you not." He could scarce 
in any way of diction, that was more striking, 
have expressed his condemnation of this prac- 
tice among them. 

Another irregularity they are rebuked for, 
is, their confounding, or so mingling, '' their 
own" with the " Lord's- Supper," that they 
were neither properly, nor sufficiently distin- 
guished Jrom each other, as they ought to 
have been. It is with special reference to 
this disorder, that the apostle charges them, 
verse 29, with *' not discerning the Lord's 
body," or, as the original words, \_me dia- 
krinon'] might, perhaps, be more properly 
rendered, not discriminating,^ the Lord's 
body, that is, the sacramental bread, figura- 
tively called by our Saviour in the institution 
of *' his supper," and by the apostle Paul in 
this chapter, '* the body of Christ," from 
the bread of " their own supper." And 

* So the original word means, and is translated to mean, in the 
following texts. Acts xv. 9. 1 Cor. iv. 7. Jude ver. 22. And this, 
undoubtedly, is its more special meaning here ; leading us to think, 
especially comparing this 29th with the 33d ver, that one thing the 
Corinthians are blamed for is, their eating the Lord's-Supper as a 
part of their own, or so mingling them together, as not to preserve 
a due distinction between them ; which most certainly they ought 
to have done 

mentioned and considered. 125 

in their way of celebrating the ** supper of 
the Lord," it is plain it was not suitably dis- 
criminated, from their '' own supper ;" nor 
did it appear, as it ought to have done, an 
open, solemn, religious declaration, or shew- 
ing forth, of his death. 

Another fault stiii they are charged with is, 
their so eating their own supper as to betray 
a want of that kindness, yea, that common de- 
cency, which would have been blame- worthy 
in those who knew nothing of Christianity. By 
comparing the 21st with the 33d ver. we shall 
find, that they did not " tarry for one anoth- 
er," but as they came to the place of worship, 
eat every one by himself of what he had 
brought ; by which means those who had 
brought a plenty, were satiated, while those 
who, being poor, had brought nothing, were 
made ashamed, not having wherewithal to 
keep them from hunger. A strange manner 
of conduct this ! It not only discovered the 
present inoperation of that brotherly kindness, 
which is the glory of a christian, but down- 
right incivility ; and they are both aggravated, 
as they were now purposely assembled, and 
assembling that they might unite in celebrat- 
ing a sacred rite of the religion of Jesus.* 

* The disorder complained of, in the above paragraph, always 

126 Religious Fears and Scruple!^ 

The last, but greatest disorder among these 
Corinthians, was their excess, or 27ite?npcrance ; 
which, at any time is highly criminal, but em- 
inently so when about to eat bread, and drink 
wine, at the sacramental supper. The charge 
against them in the 2l5t verse, is, not only 
that, " in eating every one taketh before oth- 
er his own supper," but that, while ** one is 
hungry another is drunken." It has been 
thought scarce possible, that these christians, 
especially while together in order to celebrate 
so solemn a rite as that of the Lord's-Supper, 

appeared unaccountable to me, until I had the opportunity of 
reading Raphelius's Philological Annotations ; where I met with 
these word-;, Vol. II. p. 344, " moris fuit athenis" — that is, "it 
was a custom among the Athenians, in the age of Socrates, for 
persons who came to a supper, to bring every one of them some- 
thing for himself; which was not made common to all, but for the 
most part every one ate that which was his own. An example of 
this he holds out to view from Xenophon, in his " Memorab." 
lib. HI. page 6^23; which is as full an illustration of this disorder 
among the Corinthians as can be desired. The words are these ; 
'• Opotede^ — In English thus, " when of those who came togeth- 
er that they might sup, some had brought with them a very little, 
others a great deal of provision, Socrates ordered a lad to put the 
little in common, or to distribute to each a part : In consequence 
of which, those who had brought aplenty with them were both 
ashamed not to parUike of what was served up in common, and not 
to produce their own. They therefore put down their provisions 
in common, and because they enjoyed no more tiian those who had 
brought but little, they desisted from expending much in procur- 
ing victuals.'" It should seem, from this citation, that even a Soc- 
rates was ashamed of that disorderly conduct among the pagan 
Greeks, at their collation suppers ^vfh.\c\x appears to have been con- 
tinued among the Corinthians after their conversion to Christianity, 

7iientioned and considered. 127 

should be chargeable with drunkenness^ liter- 
ally and grossly speaking. Expositors there- 
fore have commonly understood the word 
here in a more lax sense: supposing the 
most that can be meant by it is, that 
that they had used too great freedom at their 
'* own supper," eating and drinking to a de- 
gree of excess ; and that, in this unsuitable 
frame, they partook some of them, of the sa- 
cramental bread and wine. And this was the 
thought I was led to entertain of this matter, 
until I had given it a more critical examina- 
tion ; since which I imagine it may justly be 
suspected, that some among those who had 
brought a sufficiency for a full repast, were 
guilty of intemperance in too gross a sense of 
the word.* 

* The principal reason inclining me to judge, that some of the 
christian professors at Corinth were chargeable with intemper- 
ance in a worse sense than expositors commonly suppose, is this. 
The word, Mclhuei^ here translated, is drunk, really means, in all 
its grammatical variations, throughout the new-testament, and is 
accordingly translated in our Bibles so as to mean, this kind of in- 
temperance, one place only excepted ; which, perhaps, had as well 
been translated, so as to carry a sense more nearly agreeing with 
that, in which all the others are taken, as we may see presently. 
In the mean time I would observe, the substantives, Methue, and 
Methusos, are to be met with in five texts : the former in three, 
Luke xxi. 34. Rom. xiii. 13. Gal. v. 21 ; the latter in two, 1 Cor. 
V. 11, and vi. 10. The verb passive, Methuskoinai, is found in three 
places, Luke xii. 45. Eph. v, 18. 1 Thes. v. 7. The verb active, 
Metheuo,^ is used, besides in John ii. 10, the excepted place, in 
Matt. xxiv. 40. Acts ii. 15, in the text we are upon, in Thes. v. 2. 

128 Religious Fears and Scruple f> 

These now were the indecencies and irre- 
gularities of the Corinthian christians, with 

Rev. xvii. 2, and in the sixth verse : In all which texts, it not only 
signifies, but by our translators is made to signify, a grossly faulty 
excess in drinking. It would therefore carry with it the appear- 
ance of a design to serve a cause, should we depart, in this place, 
from the invariably translated, as well as genuine sense of the 
word, wherever it is to be met with the new-testament books : 
Nor is it easily supposable, the apostle would have used this 
word, which has so bad a meaning, if he had intended only some 
light degree of excess. It will, probably be said here, it would be 
too great a reflection on any of these christians to suggest, that they 
were intemperate to the excess that has been mentioned ; and 
that the want of candor only could influence any to put so severe 
a sense on the word used by the apostle. The plain answer is, the 
apostle would not have used this word, if he had not intended to 
convey by it the sense it is always taken in, and by himself too, 
every where in the sacred books. The charge therefore of too 
great severity in reflecting upon these christians, if just, must 
light upon the apostle, and not on those who interpret his words 
according to their invariable use, both in the gospels, and epistles. 
Tlie only way to express candor towards them, is to observe, in 
mitigation of their fault, which was a very gross one, that intem- 
perance at collation suppers, among the Greeks, had been common; 
and the passover meal, among the ./e«;s, was allowed to be a full 
one ; and too often it was carried into excess. If therefore some 
of these christians, whetherfrom Judaism, or Gentilism, through the 
force of habit not fully eradicated, and by being off their guard, 
been unhappily betrayed into what may be justly called intem- 
perance in drinking, it ought not to be looked upon as incredible. 
Dr. Whitby's note on the word Os tie metheuei, and another is^ 
drunken, I shall think proper to insert here. Says he, " This may 
either refer to the Gentile converts among the Corinthians, retain- 
ing still their /ic«/Aen custom of drinking liberally after their sac- 
rifices, whence methuein, to be drunk, is, by grammarians, thought 
to liave its original from meta to thuein, because of the free 
drinking they indulged to after their sacrificet ; or to the judaizing 
converts, who thought themselves obliged to drink plentifully at 
their festivals, four large cupsofwine,says Dr.Lightfoot, atthePas- 
chal-supper, and to be quite drunk, says Buxtorf, in the feast of Pu- 
rim.'''' I have now given my opinion. Let every one judge for himself. 

mentioned and considered. 129 

reference to the holy sacramental supper. Ac- 
cordingly, that special unworthiness, I am ex- 
plaining, which the apostle would fasten upon 
them, must be considered in connection here- 
with, and interpreted hereby. It accordingly 
means, in one word, the same thing precisely 
with their celebration of the Lord's-Supper in 
that disorderly, irreverent, and profane man- 
ner, that had been mentioned. The apostle 
is to be understood as if he had said. He that 
eateth and drinketh in the manner I have 
pointed out, is the he that " eateth and drink- 

— U was said just now, there was a text, John ii. 10, in which the 
same word, that is here used by the apostle, is translated in our 
Bibles, well drank ;" not importing any criminal degree in drink- 
ing. There was no need of giving the word so low a sense, and 
so different a one from that in wliich it is every where else taken 
in the New-Testament. For, let it be observed, what is here said 
was spoken, notbj our Saviour,noras insinuating a charge against 
any of the present guests, but referring to what had been a custom 
upon such occasions. The word, methusthosi, might therefore here 
have well enough been translated in a sense nearer to the genuine 
import of the word, in other texts of the New Testament. The 
" new version of the New-Testament," by an anonymous author, 
has it thus, " when the guests had drunk pretty freely." Harwood, 
in his late " translation of the New-Testament," gives it this 
sense, " when the taste of company was blunted with drinking." 
And if it had been literally and strictly translated, "when they 
were overcome with drink," it would, as I imagine, have been but 
a fair and just version ; nor would such a one have carried with it 
the least reflection, either upon our Saviour, or any of the guests 
with whom he was now at a wedding. The word refers wholly to a 
custom, in that day at wedding-feasts ; when if some of the compa- 
ny had drank too much, it would not have been strange ; and, 
perhaps, this was no uncommon thing. 

130 Religious Fears and Scruples 

eth unworthily." These things are connect- 
ed in his discourse, and explain each other. 

But some, perhaps, will say, Is this all the 
tinworthy eating and drinking at the Lord's 
table,that guests there may be chargeable with? 
I answer at once, without the least hesitation, 
No, by no means. There are other ways, 
wherein persons may bring upon themselves 
this guilt. All such do so, who eat and drink 
of the sacramental bread and wine in a care- 
less, thoughtless, inattentive, customary man- 
ner ; much more may unworthiness be 
charged upon those, who come to the supper 
of the Lord to serve their reputation, or that 
they may be under better advantage to carry 
on their worldly designs ; and it may in a 
worse sense still, and in as bad a one as can 
easily be conceived of, be fastened on your 
irreligious, profane men, who, without any 
becoming sense of God, or regard to his Son, 
but solely with a view to qualify themselves 
for some post of honour, or profit,kneel before 
the altar, and take into their polluted mouths 
the sacred symbols of the body and blood of 
Christ. In a word, it may be justly said of 
all, that they eat and drink unworthily, who 
do not do it conformably to the nature and 

mentioned and conmdered» 131 

design of this instituted rite, and as it is fit 
and reasonable it should be done. But all 
this notwithstanding, the special unworthiness^ 
the apostle is here speaking of, is that schis- 
matical, disorderly, and intemperate atten- 
dance at the sacramental supper, which he 
had been blaming, and condemning the Co- 
rinthians for : Nor can any be guilty of " un- 
worthily eating and drinking" in that special 
sense, in which this fault is charged upon this 
christian society, unless they eat and drink at 
the holy supper of the Lord, in the like inde- 
cent, irregular, and profane manner which 
thev did. 

Having thus explained the first words, that 
have been the occasion of difficulty to serious 
minds, ** He that eateth and drinketh unwor- 
thily ;" I go on to do the same by the next, 
" shall be guilty of the body and blood of the 
Lord." Some, through weakness, the undue 
influence of fear, or a mind unhappily tinc- 
tured with superstition, have been kept from 
the sacramental supper, being led, by these 
words, to imagine, that, should they unw-or- 
thily partake of it, they would be chargeable 
with the very sin the Jews w^ere, when liter- 
ally speaking, " they wounded the bodv, and 
shed the blood of Christ." But this is so 

18^ Religious Fears and Scruples 

vain an imagination, so gross a contradiction 
not only to the known use of these words in 
scripture, but to common sense, that the bare 
mentioning of it is sufficient to expose it as 
ridiculously absurd. '* The body and blood 
of Christ," here spoken of, are to be interpre- 
ted, not in the literal, but figurative sense. 
They mean, not, " his real body and blood," 
but these symbolically considered, or as rep- 
resented under the emblematical signs of 
" bread and wine," at the sacrament. So the 
words were meant by our Saviour in the in- 
stitution of the supper, and so they are under- 
stood by the apostle Paul in this very chapter, 
in the account he has given of the original con- 
secration of *' the bread and wine." 

Accordingly, when it is said of those, who 
"eat and drink unworthily" at the sacrament, 
that they are " guilty of the body and blood 
of the Lord," the true meaning is, that they 
justly expose themselves to that judgment 
God will inflict upon those, who make an un- 
diic, sinful, and profliue use of that " bread 
and wine," which, sacramentaliy, figuratively, 
or symbolically, are the " body and blood of 
Christ." What this judgment in speciaris,as 
thieatened inthischapter,we go on to show, un- 
der the last words we proposed to explain, viz. 

mentioned and considered, 1 33 

'* Eating and drinking damnation to one's 
self," in case of eating and drinking " unwor- 
thily" at the Lord's table. The english word, 
damnation, does not answer to the true import 
of the greek word (KrimaJ here used by the 
apostle. And it is a thousand pities it was thus 
translated, as it has been, unhappily, the occa- 
sion of much perplexity to many serious, 
good christians. Says the excellent Dr. Dod- 
dridge, in his note upon this word, ** I think 
it the most unhappy mistake in all our ver- 
sion of the Bible, that the word Krima, 
is here rendered damnation. It has raised a 
dread in tender minds, which has greatly ob- 
structed the comfort, and edification, they 
might have received from this ordinance." 
I fully join with this great and good man in 
the sentiment here expressed ; and the rath- 
er, because, having consulted all the exposi- 
tors and writers upon the sacramental sup- 
per I could come to the sight of, I find, that 
they unite as one in speaking of the ** judg- 
ment," more especially intended here by the 
apostle, as of the temporal kind, not of " dam- 
nation" in the future world. It is true, this 
wordfKrimaJ is sometimes used to signify 
the damnation of hell ; but it oftener means 


134 Religious Fears and Scruples 

judgment in this present state. The apostle 
Peter says, (1 Epis. iv. 17.) " The time is 
come, when judgment fKrimaJ is to begin at 
the house of God." Will any one say, dam- 
nation to future wrath is the judgment here 
meant ? ft cannot be supposed. The Evan- 
gelist Luke (chap, xxiii. 40.) brings in one of 
tlie malefactors, who were crucified with our 
Lord, rebuking the other in these words, 
*' dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art 
fen to Krima) in the same condemnation V* 
that is, adjudged to one and the same tempo- 
ral death: Yea, in the 24th chap. 20th verse, 
he speaks of the chief priests and rulers, as 
having delivered our Lord (en Krima thana- 
touj to be condemned to death : Not surely 
to damnation in a future world. It would be 
blasphemous to suggest such as untruth. 
From these texts it appears, that the word 
(Krima J we are now explaining, may, agree- 
ablv to its use elsewhere in scripture, mean, 
not punishment in hell, but temporal evil in 
this world. 

And that this was the judgment the apostle 
had directly in his eye, when he made use of 
the word Krima^ which, in our Bibles, is 
translated *' damnation," he has taken all 
proper care to put beyond all reasonable dis- 

mentioned ami considered. 135 

pute. For, let it be particularly minded, in 
the verse immediately following that wherein 
he says, " he that eateth and drinketh unwor- 
thily, eateth and drinketh damnation to him- 
self," he adds, as though on purpose to pre- 
vent our mistaking his meaning, in the use 
of the word translated damnation, '* for 
THIS CAUSE, many are weak, and sickly 
among you, and many sleep." As if he had 
said, your disorderly, profane manner, at the 
sacramental supper, has brought down upon 
you the judgments of God. For this cause ^ 
on account of this your unworthiness, he has 
visited you [perhaps, a miraculous visitation 
may be here intended] with bodily diseases, 
and temporal death itself: And this you have 
had exemplified among you, in many in- 
stances of those, who have been sick, and 
died. But, to make it yet more certain, that 
by this jSrn/wa,which has been unhappily trans- 
lated by the english word "damnation," in our 
Bibles, we are to understand temporal judg- 
ment, and not the miseries of hell, the apos- 
tle, in the 32d ver. has expressly assigned 
the reason of the infliction of the punishment 
(Krima) he had spoken of. His words are 
these, " when we are judged, we are chas- 
tened of the Lord, that we might not be con- 

136 Religious Fears and Scruples 

denined with the world." You observe, the 
evil, or punishment, be it what it may, to 
which these Corinthians had been adjudged, 
for their unworthy behaviour at the Lord's 
table, is here considered, by the apostle him- 
self, as disciplinarif only, a " divine chasten- 
ing" ; and as inflicted ioo,with a view io pre- 
vent their damnation in the other world. It is 
impossible therefore, the punishment, he here 
connects with this unworthiness, should mean, 
being of the medicinal kind only, any other 
than temporal judgment. In a word, the 
apostle, far from giving the least countenance 
to the sense of the word Krima^ as translated 
" damnation," and meaning the " damnation 
of hell," has said that which is obviously and 
abundantly sufficient to lead every intelligent 
reader to understand by it, temporal pnnish- 
ment ; such as had been inflicted upon some 
of these Corinthians, but in a way ol discipline 
only, and in order to prevent their damnation, 
beyond the grave, with the wicked world. 

It will, perhaps, be asked here. Does not 
unworthy eating and drink i 1^4^ at the Lord's 
table expose to damnation in the other world ? 
I answer ; without all doubt it does. And 
so does unworthy hearing of God's word ; 
unworthy praying to our Father who is in 

mentioned and considered. 1 37 

Heaven ; and unworthy performing any du- 
ty whatever in religion. The exact truth 
is, every sin, of whatever kind, or in whatever 
degree, whether it be a sin of omission, or 
commission, does as really expose to damna- 
tion, as unworthy eating and drinking at the 

But this notwithstanding, future damnatiort 
is not the punishment the apostle more im- 
mediately intends, in the passage we are upon; 
but, as has been said, temporal evil^ which he 
explains by these words, '* weakness, sick- 
ness, and the sleep of death :" Neither does 
he connect even this temporal judgment with 
every sort, or degree, of unworthy receiving 
the sacrament ; but with that grossly irrever- 
ent, and profane manner, in which the Co- 
rinthians received it. So that none have any 
just reason to apply that special punishment, 
here spoken of, be it what it may^ to them- 
selves, unless they can charge themselves with 
attending on the ordinance of the supper in 
the like wicked manner, which these Corinthi- 
ans did ; which is not so much to be feared at 
this day. Their scandalous irregularities, 
especially their divisive, intemperate manner 
at the Lords- Supper, for which God, perhaps 

138 Religious Fears and Scruples 

beyond the ordinary course of nature, sent 
sickness and death among them, are not the 
faults we are in present danger of falHng into 
the commission of. Those to be sure are at the 
utmost distance from this unworthiness, who 
come not to the sacramental table from a con- 
scientious fear, lest they should be chargeable 
with it. They, of all persons in the world, 
have the least reason to apply this text to 
themselves. Their case as widely differs from 
that of these Corinthians, as light differs from 
darkness. And, as their cases are thus alto- 
gether different, it is quite beside the apostle's 
intention, and a downright abuse of his words, 
to perplex their minds, and discourage them- 
selves from duty, in consideration of that, 
which is no ways applicable to them. 

I may not improperly subjoin a few words 
here, in order to undeceive those who ground 
a fear, from this passage, of the apostle we 
have been upon, lest they should be certainly 
and unavoidably dmimed^ should they happen 
to cat and drink at the sacramental supper, in 
an unworthy manner. This, I have reason to 
think, has given perplexing uneasiness to 
some serious souls, restraining them from re- 
membering Christ in the way of his appoint- 

mentioned and considered. IS9 

meat. But they have herein grossly imposed 
upon themselves. Should it be supposed, 
that the apostle w^as speaking, in this text, of 
damnation in the coming world, which we 
have seen abundant reason to think he is not, 
he ought by no means to be understood, as 
meaning, that it would inevitably prove dam- 
nation to a person, should he come to the ta- 
ble of the Lord, and eat and drink there in an 
unworthy manner. For the gospel of the 
blessed God has provided, through Christ, 
and promised, pardoning mercy to repenting 
sinners, however many, or heinous, their sins 
may have been. Unworthily receiving the 
sacrament may therefore, in common with 
all other unworthiness, be forgiven by the in- 
tervention of repentance, and so damnation 
be prevented c Should a person ui:>happily 
come to the supper of the Lord, so as to be 
an unworthy guest there, through negligence, 
carelessness, or any other faulty cause, he 
might, by the grace of God, be brought to 
repentance ; and this would as certainly se- 
cure him from damnation, as it is true, that 
God is " ready to pardon," and embrace 
penitent sinners in the arms of his mercy. 
Without all doubt, many are now in heaven, 

140 Religious Fears and Scruples 

and many will, in time to come, have admis- 
sion in this blessed place, who have often been 
at the sacramental table in an unworthy man- 
ner : not because it was not their sin ; but 
because, by repentance, they obtained the 
forgiving mercy of God. 

I have now particularly, though as briefly 
as I well could, explained those words of the 
apostle Paul, which have been the occasion of 
fears and scruples in the minds of many, with 
respect to their attendance on the institution 
of the supper, and restrained them from com- 
ing to it. It only remains as was proposed, 

11. To make a few remarks upon what 
has been offered, tending to remove away these 
fears and scruples, and make the way of those 
clear to the table of the Lord, who have been 
kept from it by the influence of them. And, 

1. It is obvious to collect, from the ex- 
planation we have given of the aposde's 
words, which have been the occasion of per- 
plexity to too many, that their fears and dis- 
tresses, taking rise therefrom, are altogether 

Are any of you afraid to come to the sacra- 
mental supper, lest you should " eat and drink 
unworthily ?" There is no reason for fear, 
lest you should come unworthily in the sense 

mentioned and considered. 141 

in which this fault is charged upon the Corin- 
thians. It is indeed morally impossible, that 
persons, in your serious, concerned state of 
mind, should come in that grossly indecent 
manner, which gave occasion to the words, 
which have been perplexing to you. How- 
ever, it is commendable in you, as there are 
other ways, in which you may eat and drink 
unworthily at the Lord's table, to be so far 
afraid, as to use all due caution, that you may 
be welcome guests there. This is the only 
reasonable operation of fear, respecting this 
article of duty. It ought not to keep you 
from communion at the sacramental supper ; 
but should rather put you upon your guard, 
and such endeavours as may be proper in or- 
der to your avoiding that, vv^hich is the ground 
of your fear. Should your fear restrain you 
from your duty, its operation would be faul- 
ty. It would not, in consistency with what 
is right and fit, answer the design of its ex- 
citement in you, unless it should prompt you 
to your duty, and to a care to see that it be 
well done. 

Are any of you afraid, if you should come 
to the sacramental supper, that you should be 
** guilty of the body and blood of the Lord?'' 
You cannot be thus guilty, unless you sinfully 

142 Religious Fears and Scruples 

eat of that bread, and drink of that cup, which 
are divinely instituted signs of " the body and 
blood of Christ." For this is the only mean- 
ing that can, with propriety, or truth, be ap- 
plied to these words. And you do well to be 
afraid of sin, whether it relates to the ordi- 
nance of the supper, or any other service of 
piety. Only you should remember, and im- 
press your minds with a serious sense of its 
being true, that this very fear of your's will 
become sinful, if, instead of stirring you up 
to the performance of duty, and a due care to 
perform it in a suitable manner,it at all restrains 
you from it ; much more,if it influences you to 
an habitual, and total neglect of it. You say, 
you fear to come to the supper of the Lord, 
lest you should be *' guilty of his body and 
blood." You cannot easily be thus guilty in 
the sense in which the Corinthians were. 
There is no danger of your using the sacra- 
mental bread and wine, which represent fig- 
uratively, " the body and blood of Christ," 
in the rude, factious, profane manner they 
did. Any, at this day, would be ashamed of 
such conduct : Nor indeed need you be 
afraid of being chargeable with the guilt of 
it. You may, it is true, be faulty in the use 
of the " bread and wine," which are institut- 

-mentioned and considered. 143 

ed signs of the " body and blood of Christ ;'* 
and you may reasonably fear, lest you should 
be thus faulty. But what ought to be the 
effect of this fear ? Most certainly, not diso- 
bedience to as plain and peremptory a com- 
mand as any in the Bible ; but caution, 
watchfulness, and circumspection, that you 
may comply with it in the best manner you can. 
Are any of you afraid of being chargeable 
with the guilt of " not discerning the Lord's 
body" should you come to the ordinance of 
the supper ? You must be grossly ignorant, 
if you do not know, that there is a great and 
wide difference betwixt sacramental and com- 
mon bread and wine. And the way, now in 
use, of eating and drinking sacramental bread 
and wine, is so different from that in which it 
was done by the Corinthians, when these 
words were wrote, that it cannot be supposed 
you could be guilty of " not discerning the 
Lord's body," in the sense that they were : 
For which reason, a fear of this guilt, in the 
minds of any, is wholly groundless. Not but 
that there may be fear, and justly too, lest the 
sacramental bread and wine should not, in the 
exercise of faith, be discriminated from that 
vyhich is common, ate and drank in a manner 
becoming their consecration to so solemn a 
use, as that of remembering the dying love of 

144 Religious Feay^s and Scruples 

Christ. But it would be altogether ^ beside 
the proper and just tendency of this fear, to 
keep any from partaking of this bread and 
wine. Its only influence should be to dis- 
pose, and engage all to a due care to eat, and 
drink of them, agreeably to the nature, and 
end, of so sacred an institution. 

In fine here, Are any of you afraid of com- 
ing to the holy supper, lest you should "eat 
and drink damnation to yourselves?" Your fear 
so far as it takes rise from the english word, 
damnation, has no just reason for its support. 
For, it is not expressive of what the apostle 
Paul means by the Greek word Krima, he 
here uses ; as has, I trust, been already made 
abundantly to appear. 

Not but that ** eating and drinking unwor- 
thily," at the Lord's table, exposes to " dam- 
nation," meaning by it damnation to wrath 
in the future world ; and you may reasonably 
fear so eating and drinking, as to render your- 
selves liable to this awful punishment : Not 
indeed because this punishment is the spec- 
ial judgment intended by the apostle ; but 
because it is the punishment elsewhere, in 
scripture, threatened against sin in general, 
be its kind, or degree what it may. For the 
same reason, therefore, that you are afraid of 

mentioned and considered. 145 

coming to the Lord's Supper, lest by doing 
this unworthily, you should ** eat and drink 
damnation to yourselves ;" you should fear 
lest, by an unworthy neglect of this ordinance, 
you should expose yourselves to this same 
punishment. For the truth is, there is as 
real danger of incurring damnation, by a 
neglect of this instance of duty, as by an un- 
worthy performance of it. You, who fear to 
come to the sacramental supper, lest you ex- 
pose yourselves to damnation, while, at the' 
same time, you have no fear upon your minds, 
lest, by the neglect of this sacred institution, 
you should as justly make yourselves liable to 
the same punishment, would do well seriously 
to consider this. There is like danger in 
both cases ; and you will only delude your- 
selves, if you think to avoid the danger of eat- 
ing and drinking unworthily, by not eating 
and drinking at all. 

It may, perhaps, be said here, the apostle 
Paul has particularly denounced damnation 
against unworthiness at the Lord's- Supper, 
while neither he, nor any of the sacred pen- 
men, have, with like particularity, pointed 
out this punishment, in case of not coming to 
it. The answer is obvious, and, as I imag- 

146 Religious Fears and Scruples 

ine, intirely satisfactory. The apostle, in the 
words referred to, is speaking, as has been 
made evident, of temporal judgment, and in- 
flicted only with a salutary view, in a way of 
fatherly chastisement ; not of damnation, 
meaning by it punishment beyond the grave : 
Nor is this kind of punishment denounced any 
where, in the bible, against unworthy receiv- 
ing the sacrament, but in those texts which 
denounce this same wrath against the neglect 
ofdiity^ as well as the unworthy performance 
of it. So that a disobedient neglect of that 
supper, which has been solemnly appointed by 
Jesus Christ, does as really expose to dam- 
nation, as an undue attendance at it. Why 
then should any abstain from sacramental eat- 
ing and drinking through fear, lest they should 
eat and drink unworthily ? Sin lies at the 
door in either case, and danger too. And it 
is^ without all doubt, both more sinful and 
more dangerous^ with respect to the persons 
whose fears I have been endeavouring to re- 
move, to neglect coming to the sacramental 
supper, than to come to it with that imagined 
untvorthiness which keeps them from it. 

2. Another remark is this, that, should 
any have unhappily attended the ordinance of 
the supper in an unworthy manner, the best 

mentioned and considered. 147 

advice to them is, not to cease from attending 
their duty in this special instance ; but to take 
proper care to perform it better for time to 
come. This remark naturally arises from 
the general tenor of the apostle's discourse, 
in the chapter we have been considering. 
He had been blaming, and rebuking, the 
church at Corinth for their rude, disorderly, 
and profane manner of celebrating the holy 
supper. And what does he hereupon ad- 
vise them to ? Does he forbid them the use oF 
this gospel ordinance ? Does he say any thing 
tending to discourage them from going again 
to it ? Not a word of this nature is to be seen 
in any part of what he has wrote to them. 
Far from this, though they had come to the 
supper of the Lord with such indecency, and 
irreverence, as are not known in the present 
age, he supposes it to be their duty still to 
come to it ; and what he endeavours is, to 
engage them by proper arguments to reform 
what had been amiss, and to attend their duty 
in a suitable manner in time to come. Chris- 
tian professors would act wisely in taking due 
notice of the apostle's care, that the holy sup- 
per might not be neglected, and, at the same 
time, that it might not be unworthily celebrat- 
ed. Should they be conscious, that they have 

148 Religious Fears and Scruples 

waited upon Christ at his table, in an unbe- 
coming manner, they should not be discour- 
aged, through fear, from waiting upon him 
again ; but should rather be excited to give 
the more earnest heed to get their unvvorthi- 
ness removed, that they may attend their duty 
conformably to the will of their Lord for 
the future. 

I may not improperly add here, if any of 
those are seriously thoughtful of coming to 
the supper of the Lord, who have never as 
vet been there, they should not be discour- 
aged from their duty, in this respect, by the 
influence of fear, lest they should come un- 
W'Orthily. Their fear should not drive them 
away from this ordinance, but rather put 
dicm upon the use of proper p^iins, that they 
may come in a worthy manner. The Co- 
rinthians had been guilty of schism, rudeness, 
and intemperance in dieir celebration of the 
sacramental supper ; and yet the apostle 
does not advise them to lay aside the use of 
this ordinance, but to take care to come to it, 
for the future, in a worthy manner. And this 
is the best advice that can be given christians 
at this day. It is not allowable for them to 
treat this ordinance with constructive contempt, 
by abstaining from the use of it ; and if they 

mentioned and considered. 149 

are afraid of coming to it unworthily, the ef- 
fect of their fear should be, their more dili- 
gent endeavour to come in the. manner they 
would desire, and as may be for the honour 
of their Lord. 

3. Another remark still may be, that it< 
ought not to be supposed, that the apostle 
Paul, in the chapter we have been explain- 
ing, had it in his heart to discourage those 
christians, from an attendance at the sacra- 
mental table, who discourage themselves, and 
from what he has said too. Let us attend a 
little to their character, more especially as 
drawn from the ground of their discourage- 
ment. Why are they kept back from re- 
membering their Lord, in the way of his ap- 
pointment ? Is it not because they fear, lest 
they should not do this with that faith, love, 
humility, and holy reverence, which become 
a sacred institution of gospel worship ? Is it 
not because they have worthy sentiments of 
Jesus Christ, who has appoin ed the sacra- 
mental supper, and would willingly be com- 
municants at it, but that they have scruples 
in their minds, as to their fitness to be so ? 
Is it not because they are jealous over them- 
selves, with a godly jealousy, jealous of the 

150 Religions Feats and Scruples 

honour of their Lord, and would serve him 
with their best ? Is it not because they are 
heartily desirous of pleasing Christ, and are 
afraid, lest they should fail of doing so, should 
they come to his table ? 

Can it now be imagined, with any face of 
reason, that it was the design of the apostle, 
by any thing he has said, in this chapter, to 
discourage this kind of persons from giving 
their presence at the sacramental supper ? 
Could it have entered his heart to block up 
their way to the table of the Lord ? It ought 
not to be supposed. Surely, if he did not 
discourage the Corinthians from attending this 
ordinance, though they came to it in such an 
irreverent manner, as that they were visited 
by God, FOR this very cause, with 
** weakness, sickness and death," he could 
never intend to throw any discouragement in 
the way of the persons I have described. 
And if he could know how they have miscon- 
strued his words, and taken occasion, from 
them, to neglect the supper of the Lord, he 
would scarce be able, though in heaven, to 
refrain from grief. And could he now speak 
to them from the excellent glory, it would be 
to advise them forthwith to lav aside their 

mentioned and considered. 151 

fears and scruples, and honour their Lord by 
celebrating the memorial of his death. 

4. The last remark is, that it should be 
the serious endeavour of all to come worthily 
to the table of Christ. The apostle Paul 
aimed mainly at this, in all that he said to 
the Corinthians, in that part of his epistle to 
them we have been considering. To this 
end he set before them their faults, and gave 
them the directions proper, in order to their 
rectifying them, that they might come to the 
supper Christ had appointed, not to condem- 
nation, but to praise and honour. And this 
should be the care also of all, who profess 
themselves the disciples of Jesus. They 
should not esteem it a matter of trifling con- 
cern, how they partake of the symbols of 
their Lord's death, but should endeavour to 
do it, so as to glorify God, and promote their 
own spiritual advantage. 

Many, I am sensible, would be glad to come 
to the sacramental supper who were never 
there ; and what has kept them back is, this 
matter of worthily partaking there. Being 
convinced, that they ought to come worthily, 
they are restrained from coming, because they 
fear they shall not be able thus to come. But 
this is a difficulty that will as truly hold against 

i J'2 Religious Fears and Scruples 

all the other duties of relio-ion. Thev oiio'ht 
all to be performed in a worthy manner ; and 
if persons should imagine they cannot thus 
perform them, why may they not as reason- 
ably leave them all undone, as this of remem- 
bering their Saviour at his supper ? Is this 
right ? What must be the effect of such 
conduct but a total disregard to all the ser- 
vices of piety ? The exact truth is, the in- 
fluence of fear, respecting the supper of the 
Lord, should never be, to keep us from it, 
but to excite our care that we may be wel- 
come guests at this gospel feast ; and thus we 
shall be if the subjects of that meetness 
which is suited to the nature and design of 
the duty. And this meetness I will venture 
to say, those are certainly possessed of, who 
are most sensible of their unworthiness, and 
most fearful lest they should dishonour Christ, 
by an undue attendance at his table. With 
respect to persons of this character, there is 
no danger of their rudely, or irreverently, 
rushing upon this ordinance. They are the 
persons who are most concerned, that they 
may be prepared for a due approach to it ; 
and there is no doubt but they ought to be 
ranked among those, who would be most 
welcome to it. 

mentioned and examined. 133 

I have now said all that I had in view to 
say, 'in the choice of the subject I have been 
so long upon. I have, in as plain and faithful 
manner as I could, laid before you the obli- 
gations christians are under to celebrate the 
instituted memorial of their Lord's dying 
love. I have been particular in speaking to 
the careless and secure; the lake- warm and 
indifferent ; the conscientious and careful, in 
regard of their attendance on the other insti- 
tutions of gospel worship ; and, in fine, the 
scrupulous and fearful : endeavouring to 
consider, and remove all the doubts, difficul- 
ties and fears, which have kept any from an 
attendance at the table of Christ, so far, at 
least, as they have come within reach of my 
knowledge. ^ 

What will be the effect of my having been 
thus large and full, in treating upon this spe- 
cial article of christian duty, is known to God 
only. If what has been discoursed may, un- 
der the divine blessing, be influential upon 
any to do honour to their Saviour, by remem- 
bering him in the way he has prescribed, it 
will be labour spent to good purpose. It will 
occasion joy of heart to all the friends of Je- 
sus ; yea, it will be pleasing to him, who lov- 
ed us, and died for us ; yea, it will be a plea-. 

154 Religious Fears and Scruples. 

sure to that God, who so loved us, even while 
we were sinners, as to give his only begotten 
Son to be slain a sacrifice to atone for our 
transgressions. But if what has been said 
should prove labour in vain, as being followed 
with no good effect, as having no influence to 
prevail upon any to join with their christian 
friends in breaking of that bread, which is the 
symbol of Christ's broken body, it will be re- 
membered another day, that you have been 
faithfully entreated, warned, directed, and 
encouraged to the practice of this article of 
duty ; and you will be the more inexcusable 
on this account. I shall only say, I have de- 
livered mv soul, and have done it faithfully 
in this instance, however defective I may 
have been in others. The good God grant, 
that this christian point of practice, which has 
been seriously and solemnly urged, may 
prove a savour of life unto life unto many, and 
not of death unto death — to any one soul. 


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